Supreme Court upholds Health Care Reform
In a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, with a 5-4 vote, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare” is upheld. What does this mean to Realtors®?
Most Realtors® are independent contractors and don’t have the benefit of an employer who provides access to group healthcare for them. Many purchase health insurance as individuals for themselves or their families.
In 2009, the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® (PAR) opened an insurance brokerage, easyStreet Insurance Services, to help meet the health insurance needs of its members. “According to a member survey, 16 percent of PAR members are uninsured,” said easyStreet CEO Brenda Florida. “Many members expressed their confusion over the myriad of options in the individual health insurance market with multiple carriers to choose from and different policies with different deductibles and coverage.”
“Very few insurance brokers specialize in individual health insurance; most focus on insuring groups (employers and their employees),” said Jim Innerst, easyStreet’s director of sales. “At easyStreet we specialize in helping individuals compare options and helping members make a decision about the best combination of premium, coverage and deductibles for their specific needs.”
How will the Supreme Court’s decision affect Realtors®? The Court upheld the mandate requiring individuals to have health insurance under penalty of tax. If you aren’t insured, you’ll need to get insured or pay the tax.
Other provisions of Health Care Reform previously enacted include requirements that insurers cover the children of those they insure up to age 26, that children under the age of 19 can no longer be denied benefits because they had a pre-existing condition, and plans that meet the reform law can no longer have limited lifetime benefits. In addition, by 2014 insurers will now also be required to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions and it establishes federal and state exchanges that will have such products available.
The political rhetoric will go on but the Supreme Court’s decision moves the Health Care Reform law forward.