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Cool tool: How will health care reform affect me?

Newspaper provides online tool that explains what reform means to your coverage and your taxes.

By Karen Datko Mar 25, 2010 5:22PM

What’s the bottom line in your household when it comes to health care reform? The Washington Post has an online tool to help you figure it out.

 

“This tool estimates what it could mean for your health coverage and taxes based on your income, family size and current insurance status,” the Post says (and a hat tip to the Post's Michelle Singletary for pointing it out).

 

The tool asks whether you have insurance now and who provides it, your household size, your adjusted gross household income, and marital status.  

 

We tried out a variety of scenarios, and here’s what we found. (Keep in mind that many of the reforms won’t take effect until 2014. Others will be implemented this year.)

Scenario One:

  • Health insurance? No.
  • Household size? One.
  • AGI? $34,000.
  • Status? Single.

Impact on insurance coverage, according to the Post:

Beginning in 2014, you will receive tax credits to help afford insurance premiums in the new exchanges as well as assistance with deductibles and co-payments. According to your income and family size, the tax credits will ensure you do not spend more than $3,230 on premiums. Your maximum out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-payments would be capped at 30% of the total cost.

Impact on taxes:

You are required to have health insurance by 2014. Penalties for not having coverage begin in 2014 at $95 per uninsured dependent and rise by 2016 to $695 per person (up to a maximum of $2,085 per family or 2.5% of household income (whichever is higher). After 2016, the penalty would be increased annually by the cost-of-living adjustment.

Let’s try another scenario: Your insurance is provided by your employer, you’re married and have a four-person household with a combined AGI of $55,000. What then?

It says that if you are paying more than 9.5% of your income on health insurance premiums in 2014, you will have the option to purchase insurance through an exchange and  receive tax credits that would limit your spending on premiums to no more than $4,427.50. The cap on those out-of-pocket costs mentioned above would be 27%. “You will not pay any additional taxes,” it says.

Let’s try one more: a single person on Medicare with an AGI of $15,000. You won’t pay additional taxes either. As far as coverage goes, the dreaded Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole will be phased out.

In the meantime, if your drug expenses cause you to fall into the doughnut hole, you will receive a 50% discount on all brand-name drugs.

If you gave the Post’s online tool a try, what did you find out? Were you satisfied or dissatisfied with the results?

 

Related reading:

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