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How does health reform impact your coverage?

March 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The health care reform signed into law this week is expected to have a major impact on medical coverage and patient's insurance needs over the next few years. It's not too soon to start figuring out what some of the key provisions mean to you. As you may know by now, many of the new health care reform provisions won't affect you until 2014, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be thinking about it and preparing for the changes now. Here's what it means to you.

Some 32 million people who don't have health insurance now will be required to get it by 2014. Imagine how that will impact the health care industry. For doctors, there could be a shortage of them taking on new patients so you may want to find one soon before it is too late. As for health insurance premiums, certified life underwriter, Brian Gilder, says to expect premiums to rise.

"The insurance companies are going to say to say to themselves, 'We need to put more money on reserve because if we're going to have to start taking on everybody that comes to us and we can't discriminate against anybody, then we're going to have to set aside a bigger reserve account to pay for these claims that are coming up,'" said Gilder.

Another thing that may affect your family budget is the increase in the Medicare payroll tax for those making more than $200,000. But those on Medicare will be glad to know that their prescription drug bill will begin to get smaller later this year.

"That would be nice. I would welcome any kind of help," said Regina Bell of Van Nuys.

One provision in the new bill that has not been talked about much is a new voluntary long term care benefit that would pay cash to people who become disabled.

"Long term care is essential. That's where people get wiped out with all their money, is paying for a long term care," said Gilder.

But you get the new benefit only if you pay into the long term care program for at least five years. You can start doing that beginning in 2011, but you may want to think about budgeting for it now.

If you are uninsured now, you will be required to have insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014, so start planning for the cost now. And also remember, you may qualify for a subsidy depending on your income.