Jul 28, 2014

LifeBridge: Act Could Help Lower Insurance Costs

When the Affordable Health Care Act goes into effect in 2014, people who are currently insured could see a drop in what they pay for their health care insurance, according to an expert at LifeBridge Health.

LifeBridge: Act Could Help Lower Insurance Costs LifeBridge: Act Could Help Lower Insurance Costs

The lowest insurance costs occur when everyone is in the pool of insureds, according to Martha Nathanson of LifeBridge Health in Baltimore.

"We’re very, very relieved that the law has been upheld because one of the central tenants of insurance is to keep people covered," she said of the Affordable Health Care Act, which was upheld Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Because the act requires all Americans to have health care insurance, everyone's costs will be lowered, said Nathanson, who is vice president of government relations and advocacy.

LifeBridge owns Northwest Hospital, Sinai Hospital, and , among other businesses.

The act also calls for expanding the federal Medicaid program, Nathanson said.

Medicaid pays for people who have high medical bills, who receive Supplemental Security Income or Temporary Cash Assistance, or meet financial requirements, according to the Maryland Department of Mental Health and Hygiene website.

Because more people will be insured under the act, people will likely pay lower health care insurance premiums, and the hospitals won't have the costs associated with uncompensated care: the costs they pay to give medical care to people without insurance.

"Those of us who are paying insurance are also paying for people who do not have insurance," Nathanson said. But, when the act goes into effect, everyone will have to get insurance, or they will pay a penalty.

That penalty is close to the cost of the insurance, so there will be an incentive to purchase the insurance, she said.

Hospitals will likely use some of the savings to buy new equipment or to upgrade rooms, or other capital projects, she said, further increasing the quality of care.

"The good news is that, buying insurance will be made more transparent," Nathanson said. "It will be easier to use, people will want to use it, rather than put themselves in a situation of paying a penalty."

That penalty will likely be tied to your income tax return, although no one yet knows how it will be enforced, she said.

On Pikesville Patch's Facebook page, three readers voiced support of the act.

"Absolutely a good move," said Jamie Puffer. "I'm sure you'll get a plethora of tea party commenters saying it isn't."

Victoria Minkov and Cheryl Cohen agreed with Puffer.

"It's a great move!" Minkov said.

Haven't heard any negative comments about the act yet, at least not specifically on Pikesville Patch. We want to hear from both sides! Warn us if you know of some ill effects of the act, by putting your comments in the box below this story.

Read what other health officers and non-profit representatives had to say about the act.

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