Big changes are coming for Americans in 2014.
President Obama's reforms to health care found in the Affordable Care Act are projected to provide health care to over 30 million uninsured citizens.
But for many, there will be a price to pay for nationwide health coverage. "If you don't have health insurance, starting in 2014 you will pay a penalty, and that penalty will be 95 dollars or 1 percent of your income," says Denise M. Fletcher, health care attorney at Brown and Fortunato of Amarillo. "In 2016, it can be as much as 695 dollars or 2 and a half percent of your income."
Texas Governor Rick Perry announced that Texas will not create a state insurance exchange nor accept expanded Medicaid funds outlined in the Affordable Care Act.
"One of the provisions is the expansion of Medicaid. And it would expand Medicaid to 133 percent of the poverty level. That is an option or the state. Our governor has very vehemently said that he will reject the Medicaid expansion."
If Americans fall below the Federal Poverty Level, they are not required to buy health insurance if the cost would be more than 8% of their yearly income. If a company has more than 50 full-time employees, they are now required to provide medical insurance. If they fall below 50 employees, employers could receive a tax credit for providing insurance to employees.
One of the new programs is a financial incentive for the implementation of electronic health records, also known as "Meaningful Use".
The Government provides financial incentives for professionals demonstrating an updated system, from records to these electronic records, for patients.
"In 2015, if you're not onboard with meaningful use, you'll actually be penalized. And they're looking right now at 1 percent per year of your Medicare receivables and that should increase up to 3 percent and it may increase actually more than that if 75 percent of the clinicians are not doing that meaningful use by that point," says Optometrist Candace Lipshy.
Governor Rick Perry's decision to reject insurance exchange and the Medicaid expansion may hurt uninsured Texans. Texas recently ranks as the worst in the country for health care delivery, according to the Federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.
For more information on health care reform and the Affordable Care Act, visit www.healthcare.gov.