The Affordable Care Act: What You Need To Know – Part II

by Jessica A. Hayes, Esq.
September 20, 2013
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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “Affordable Care Act” or “ACA”) will effect elder law and long-term care planning in a number of ways.  For example, if Virginia approves the expansion of the Medicaid program, beginning in January 2014, individuals under 65 with income below 133% of the Federal Poverty Level will be eligible for Medicaid without regard to their resources.  In addition, the ACA requires parity of reimbursement for Medicaid and Medicare services to primary care physicians in 2013 and 2014.  This should encourage primary care physicians to participate in the Medicaid program, giving individuals more options when choosing physicians.
Beginning in 2014, under the ACA, individuals retiring before age 65 will be able to obtain health insurance without pre-existing condition exclusions.  Obtaining coverage under the Health Insurance Marketplace, as opposed to COBRA, will become a more attractive option for retirees, as there is no time limit for coverage under the ACA, whereas COBRA coverage may extend no further than 18 months.  The ACA will also assist more individuals in covering their health costs.  Because 60% of bankruptcies are a result of unpaid medical bills, the ACA may lead to a reduction in the number of bankruptcies.
Of course, the ACA will have an effect on taxes, as well.  Beginning in 2013, individuals must pay an additional .09% Medicare tax on earned income in excess of $200,000 for an individual, $250,000 for married couples filing jointly, or $125,000 for married couples filing separately.  In addition, a 3.8% unearned income Medicare tax will apply to all or a portion of the net investment income of certain individuals, estates, and trusts.  The threshold for tax deductibility of unreimbursed medical expenses will also increase, from 7 1/2% to 10% of an individual or couple’s adjusted gross income.
As we look ahead to how the ACA will affect our lives, the necessity of comprehensive retirement planning, to include consideration of the impact of the ACA, becomes increasingly clear.  A number of our clients have expressed concern about running out of money and being unable to pay for their medical expenses and long-term care in the future.  The coverage afforded by the ACA, in addition to the new taxes imposed by the ACA, must be factored into retirement planning.
Open enrollment for coverage under the Health Insurance Marketplace runs from October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014, with coverage beginning as early as January 1, 2014.  . The attorneys at the Hook Law Center can explain the ACA to you, help you obtain necessary health care coverage, and factor the ACA into your retirement plan.
ask kitkat logoPet Breathing Masks

Hook Law Center:
  Kit Kat, are there really breathing masks for pets?
Kit Kat:  Yes, thank goodness there are! They come in small, medium, and large sizes. The small size works well for cats and very small dogs. Recently, fire departments and rescue squads in the area have received donations of the masks from companies like Invisible Fence. That was quite a donation! The masks cost about $60 each, and Virginia Beach’s rescue squads received enough masks in all sizes to outfit their 10 emergency vehicles. Invisible Fence nationwide has given more than 10,000 of these masks to emergency services. Other organizations have helped other cities like Chesapeake and Norfolk. Those cities received their masks through the Chesapeake Humane Society and Animal Rescue of Tidewater.
Oxygen masks that are tailored especially for pets have tremendous advantages. Just like people caught in a fire, receiving oxygen as quickly as possible after smoke inhalation can make the difference between survival and death, according to Dr. Wayne Johnson of Birdneck Animal Hospital (Va.Beach, VA). Anything that can be done to save some of the 40,000 to 150,000 pets that die in fires nationwide (statistic from US Fire Administration) is helpful. Capt. Scott Saunders, of the Chesapeake Fire Department, agrees. ‘In the past, you’d pull an animal out and maybe try to fashion a mask out of a human oxygen mask, which doesn’t provide the proper flow of oxygen. These have a huge benefit.’ (Cleavelin, Mary Beth, “New masks help pets breathe easy,” The Virginian-Pilot, August 5, 2013.)
Upcoming Events

  • Hook Law Center proudly presents “Shred With A Purpose” at our Virginia Beach office location, 295 Bendix Road, Suite 170, Virginia Beach, VA  23452 on September 21, 2013 from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.  This event is free and open to the public.  Donations will be accepted during this event for the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  More information on this event follows.
  • Hook Law Center will be presenting a seminar on Guardianships, AMDs and Long-Term Care Planning at Compassionate Care Hospice, 920 Ventures Way, Suite 6, Chesapeake, Virginia on October 2, 2013 from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Hook Law Center is participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s  on October 13, 2013 to raise funds and awareness. We  know Team Hook Law Center can make a difference with your support! It’s easy to give online by clicking here.  If you would like to join Team  Hook Law Center, raise funds and walk with us, please email Jennifer Woods-Pagano, CECC, our team captain, at pagano@hooklawcenter.com for more information.
  • Hook Law Center will be presenting on Estate and Long-Term Care Planning at the Medicare Health Fair at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, 1000 19th Street, Virginia Beach, VA on November 16,  2013.  This event, hosted by Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia, is free and open to the public.
  • Hook Law Center will be presenting a seminar on Special Needs Trusts to the Parkinson’s Young Onset Support Group at their bi-weekly meeting in Virginia Beach, VA  on November 16, 2013.
  • Hook Law Center will be presenting a webinar on the Affordable Care Act and Elder Law and Special Needs Planning on December 4, 2013. This webinar will be hosted by Interactive Legal.
  • Hook Law Center will be presenting a live webinar on POAs, AMDs and the Ethics of It All in Charlottesville, VA on April 10, 2014. This webinar will be hosted by Virginia Continuing Legal Education.

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This report is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this report accurate, Hook Law Center assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information in this report.