Personal & Financial Strategies

The Supreme Court’s Health Care Decision

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Confused about how health care reform and the Supreme Court’s recent ruling will impact your business, or your personal finances? Terri Burdick, of Blackhawk Bank, offers a few starting points.

This summer, the long-awaited decision from the Supreme Court regarding the Health Care Reform and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was delivered: it’s constitutional. The decision from the ruling will have widespread impact and implications, but because of the complexity of the legislation, those changes aren’t always clear. To clarify what the Supreme Court’s ruling means, here is a list of the holdings:
1. Affordable Care Act (ACA) is constitutional in its entirety, including the individual mandate.
2. The individual mandate is constitutional under Congress’ power to impose a tax.
3. Because the individual mandates survive under the law, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for Medicaid eligibility requirements.
4. The court held that the Medicaid requirement for states to comply with the eligibility requirements or risk loss of funding is constitutional as long as states only lose new funds rather than all funding.
The ramifications of this decision remain to be seen. There’s no doubt that it will impact our lives as individuals and employers. It will continue to be central to media coverage over the next several weeks, and will play out during our political election season.

In this ever-changing and complicated piece of legislation, it is difficult for the public to fully grasp exactly how this reform will directly impact them. The reform has left many Americans confused and concerned and others optimistic and hopeful. This issue also can be highly sensationalized by politicians and media, leading to inaccurate perceptions and impacts regarding the act. The best advice I can offer today is to take a breath and listen intently to the discussions. If someone is telling you they have all the answers about the impact of this law today – be skeptical. This is a big law, and there are lots of decisions yet to be made. Look to your trusted experts whose job it is to keep up on these changes and look out for your bottom line. Your insurance carrier or benefits consultant may be your best resource for understanding the impact to you and your organization.

Terri Burdick, Blackhawk Bank

Like any large investment or purchase, we need to rely on the power of education, when it comes to our health care decisions. Just like when we purchase a new car or computer, we need to do the necessary research on the available health care plan options to find the best option. To be smarter consumers of health care, we need to use the available tools to help us make better decisions when it comes to medical costs. There are several existing resources to help patients compare costs of care and procedures among area physicians. Also, Health Savings Accounts are helpful tools for saving money when used in conjunction with a high- deductible plan. Check with your benefits provider to see how to take advantage of these options.

There is much to do at all levels to improve health care for our nation – as consumers, as health care providers, and as payers – and there is no magic bullet. Success won’t happen overnight. As consumers and employers work through a difficult and changing economic environment, they continue to see their cost of health care skyrocket. This, in many ways, has become a ‘new normal’ for employers. Health care should be approached as a partnership with employers and medical providers. Individually, we all need to take a greater stake in our health care decisions and overall wellness goals to help control costs. Only by working together can we even hope to make a positive change.

Terri Burdick is Senior Vice President of Administration & Operations at Blackhawk Bank

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