More Health Overhaul Policies Settle In

The tangible effects of some early-arriving health overhaul policies are beginning to surface.

The Wall Street Journal: “Almost 2,000 employers and unions will be eligible to submit retirees’ medical bills for reimbursement by a $5 billion federal fund, the Obama administration will disclose Tuesday, suggesting the fund will be spread widely but thinly.” General Motors, Pepsi, Alcoa and Pfizer are among the major employers that are said to be signing up. These and other firms can get up to 80 percent of retirees health costs paid for by the $5 billion federal fund, but experts worry the money will run out before 2014 — the date other provisions of the overhaul should make the program obsolete — because so many firms plan to submit claims (Adamy, 8/31).

The Wall Street Journal, in a separate story: “Regulators’ appetite for calorie counts is about to extend beyond restaurants to thousands of other places that offer food, including airplanes, movie theaters and convenience stores. The expansion stems from provisions in the health-care overhaul enacted in March. The government wants calorie listings posted to make it easier for consumers to select healthier options, and the restaurant industry backed the move so it could avoid a patchwork of local ordinances that are developing” (Adamy, 8/31).

Information Week: Meanwhile, “[w]hen HealthCare.gov was launched on July 1, it was billed as the only website that comprehensively lists both public and private health insurance options. Since then more than 1.1 million people have visited the site and 32,000 individuals have given their feedback on how to improve it.” What’s less clear is whether the site will achieve its stated goal of increasing competition in the insurance market and helping consumers make better decisions about plans (Lewis, 8/30).

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