Lesser Known Facts about the Affordable Care Act

We’ve heard a lot about the main initiatives under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ACA) as in mandating all Americans have health insurance, no denial of coverage due to a pre-existing condition, and the expansion of Medicaid. But there are a few, lesser known facts about the ACA. Some have already taken affect while others are slowly being phased in. And I bet you didn’t know about most of them either….

Indoor Tanning Services
One of the earliest healthcare requirements implemented under the ACA was a 10% tax levied against all indoor tanning services. There are two main reasons behind the tax. First, it provides much needed revenue to the federal coffers for implementation of the ACA and second, the extra “costs” were to be passed on to the consumer in hopes of discouraging indoor tanning for health reasons. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indoor tanning has been linked with skin cancers including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and cancers of the eye.

Domestic violence help
As of August 2012, the law requires that all insurance plans cover screening and counseling for domestic abuse, a provision found under preventive services for women’s health. The law will also prevent domestic violence from being considered a “pre-existing condition”.

Smoking and You
Bet you didn’t know that under the ACA, smokers can be charged up to 50% more than nonsmokers for health insurance beginning in 2014. And, current regulations allow companies to require workers who fail to meet specific standards to pay up to 20% of their insurance costs. So, decide if lighting up is worth the extra money you may pay for your health insurance.

Oh The Calories
You’ve started to see this in many of the restaurants and fast-food chains over the past few years..up front and center. But now, because of the ACA, restaurants with 20+ locations are required to list calorie counts on menus, menu boards and drive-thrus. So, you won’t be able to hide from those calories and fat grams when order that double burger and side of cheesy fries.

Pricier Food
Many of the restaurant chains are also making a lot of noise as to how the ACA is going to affect their bottom line. Restaurants with more than 50+ full-time employees will be required to provide them with health insurance or pay a penalty. So, who do you think is ultimately going to pay that price? You are…the consumer. So, don’t be surprised when you notice your favorite chicken sandwich, cheeseburger, or pizza, goes up in price.

Workplace Breastfeeding Support
Not every woman who has a child wants or is able to breastfeed. For those who do choose to, not every public facility or office place is receptive to this action. Under the ACA, employers, with 50+ employees, are required to provide reasonable, unpaid break time, and a clean, private, non-bathroom location for women who are nursing their child or expressing milk, for up to the child’s 1st birthday.

Greater mental health attention
Under the ACA, mental health treatments will now be considered equally in terms of deductibles, co-pays, and doctor visits with medical and surgical coverage. And because coverage for pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied by insurance companies, more people with mental health issues will be able to get the care they need resulting in better health for themselves and their families.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
As many of you have already found out in January 2011, your FSA can no longer be used to buy over-the-counter medications. But, the bigger change was when in January 2013 the maximum you could contribute to your FSA was capped at $2,500 per year. Previously there was no cap.

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