Healthcare Reform Alters Insurance Choices for 2011

Provisions in the health reform law may affect what employer insurance plans offer.

Video: Health Insurance Basics

Video: Health Insurance Basics


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5. Added incentives for staying well. As healthcare costs continue to skyrocket, more employers are offering prevention initiatives to keep their workers well and their premiums down. "They're using incentives a little more, paying for nutrition counseling and gym memberships," says Pearce Weaver, a senior vice president of Fidelity Benefits Consulting in Houston. Some employers reduce premiums for those who, say, lose excess weight or get their blood pressure or cholesterol levels under control. And they're putting new emphasis on high-deductible policies paired with health savings accounts; such plans usually have deductibles of well over $1,000 per year. These combos often appeal to people who rarely get sick, says Weaver, because the premiums tend to be cheaper and any contributions that participants make are tax free; some employers make matching contributions as well. The funds can be used for doctor visits, medications, and lab tests. Now, though, those with HSA accounts can no longer use these funds for over-the-counter medications like Prilosec or Tylenol unless they're doctor-ordered. "We've seen an increase in employers opting for these policies," says Weaver, "because it saves them money."

6. More transparency. That's the idea behind, a new government website intended to help you compare individual and family health plans sold in your state when you can't get coverage on the job.

Plugging in age, health status, and other facts about yourself and other family members brings up a list of plans showing estimated monthly premiums and deductibles. The site warns that you could be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions, though, until the full force of health reform is felt in 2014.

Corrected on : Corrected on 12/7/10: A previous version of this piece gave incorrect information regarding insurance coverage for the grandchildren of those who have insurance that covers their children up to age 26.