Posted by Jean
It’s shaping up to be a busy week for the Supreme Court. Yesterday, the justices ruled on the Arizona immigration law; by the end of this week, they’re expected to have a decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In light of the impending decision, I’ve found that one of the biggest questions people are asking right now is, “What does this mean for me and my own healthcare?”
The answer obviously depends on how the court rules, but as Linda Stern writes in Reuters, many people expect the individual mandate to be struck down but for other components of the law to be upheld. Specifically, she writes, this means that you might have to prepare to do some of the following:
- Research alternative coverage for your kids. Part of the ACA currently dictates that an insurer cannot use a pre-existing condition as a reason to deny coverage to a child. The good news is that some insurers have promised to keep this rule in place for the time being, whether or not the Supreme Court strikes it down. However, if the Supreme Court nixes this measure andyour insurer is not planning on maintaining this rule, you might be forced to shop around for different coverage for your kids. Health insurance experts note that it might be a good idea to do this regardless of the Supreme Court outcome, as you may end up finding cheaper coverage.
- Go for a check-up and make it count. I’m not just talking about having the doctor check yourheight, weight and blood pressure — what you want to do is make sure your immunizations are up to date and that you’re caught up on procedures like mammograms and colonoscopies. Why? The ACA currently requires insurers to cover these tests, but if the law is nullified, you may start to see some of these tests go away. (Especially, Stern notes, if there continue to be scientific studies that question the necessity of such tests, as happened with mammograms a few months back.)
- Brace for the return of lifetime caps. The ACA currently prohibits coverage caps, which is a help to those with a serious and/or expensive illness. If the Supreme Court strikes down the law, private health plans may reestablish these caps. If you have an illness and are on a private plan, you may need to look into cap-free policies.
For more information on exactly what you might need to do after the Supreme Court rules, I highly recommend reading all of Linda Stern’s article.
While we’re on the topic of healthcare, I also wanted to share this Bucks Blog post from the New York Times – it talks all about how you can decode your medical bills. As you may know, it can be hard to figure out which procedures cost what and why certain tests are more expensive than others. In the post, Tara Siegel Bernard provides some good resources for breaking down and understanding yourmedical bills. It’s definitely worth a look!
And now, here are the other headlines for the week:
Ready for some back to school shopping?
If seems like students were just finishing up their final exams yesterday, you’re not imagining things — they were. (In New York schools, at least.) Yet, showing the type of overzealousness that is usually reserved for Hallmark’s “Christmas in July,” electronics retailers have already started promoting their back to school specials, with a specific focus on laptop deals.
Now, from a retail perspective, it makes sense to try to nab kids who are just dying for a new laptop, even if they’ll have to wait two months to use it. But from a consumer’s perspective, it’s just plain silly to succumb to these sales. Or, as a SmartMoney article puts it, “These companies are fishing for suckers with back to school sales in June.” (And while we’re on the subject of SmartMoney, can I just say I’m sad about the fact that the publisher is shutting down the print edition? I was employee #5 at SmartMoney magazine. That was where I learned the ropes of personal finance and it was, pretty much, the best job I ever had. I’ll miss seeing it on newsstands.)
The real sales will come much later in the summer, and trust me when I say that you can save significant amounts of money by waiting to buy your electronics until then. Last year, for example, laptops were 13% cheaper in August than they were in June. The moral of the story here? Hold yourhorses!
“It’s a sip of wine, it’s summertime”
I’m not normally a Kenny Chesney fan, but when I saw a new NPR study on what America spends on booze, those lyrics popped right into my head. Maybe because according to the findings, nearly 40% of the money we spend at the liquor store is going towards wine, up from just 16 percent thirty years ago. Personally, that’s just fine with me — I’ll happily take a glass of Chardonnay! However, the second part of the survey results were a little bit more concerning to me. According to the study, we’re spending more of our money on booze at bars and restaurants than at stores (to drink at home), yet the price of alcohol at these bars and restaurants has gone up nearly 80 percent since 1982. Yikes! If you find that you’re spending a lot of money on booze at bars and restaurants, maybe it’s time to start finding a few more BYOs…
Have a great week!