Tag Archives: Obamacare

5 Things to Know About the New Food Labeling Laws

movie-popcorn

Late last week the Food and Drug Administration made a huge announcement that basically holds more businesses accountable for the calories in the food they choose to serve. The new food laws, which falls under the Affordable Care Act, will absolutely affect you; expect to know how many calories are in that tub of popcorn at the movie theater, for instance.

Let’s break down the most important changes you will notice next year.

1. All major businesses will need to display their calorie counts. 

Some big cities are already held to this standard, like New York City. But the FDA’s new laws will require any establishment that sells prepared food (and also has more than 20 locations) to display its food’s calorie information. A one-stop independent bakery will not be affected, but your local and booming coffee purveyor that’s become a chain will not be exempt.

2. Calories will be on the menu. 

Calorie content will appear on menus and menu boards in restaurants, though bakeries, coffee shops, pizza joints, movie theaters, and amusement parks will be affected, as well. The idea is to provide easy access to the caloric information of your food choices to help you realize exactly what you are ingesting. The FDA also hopes that it will inspire restaurants to make healthier food preparation choices. (more…)

Here’s What You Missed Health-Wise During the State of the Union

Last night President Obama delivered his 5th State of the Union Address. During the near 90 minute speech, he covered topics like the citizenship, the United States’ military presence in the Middle East, and equal pay. An increase to minimum wage was a hot topic in the speech. President Obama would like to see it increase to $10.10 per hour. That portion of the speech provided the most easily quoted moment of the night, “Give America a raise.”

In a blink-and-you-missed-it moment, the president also, unsurprisingly, talked a bit about health care and the still much-debated Affordable Care Act.

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What the Heck is Obamacare Anyway, and How Does it Affect Me?

Hear ye, hear ye! Let October 1, 2013 henceforth be known as the day all hell broke loose in the United States. That’s when the government shut down and the website HealthCare.gov went up. Well, actually, the website went up, then back down, then up for a few minutes and back down for several more. HealthCare.gov is home to The Health Insurance Marketplace, the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act and if you’re confused already, you’re not alone.

Healthcare Marketplace

Though it’s been three years since the first measures of the Affordable Care Act started rolling out, some people still don’t understand what it is or if it will even affect them. With the help of Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ Chief Health and Medical Editor, let’s whittle down to the bare bones and answer the most pressing questions.

What’s in a name: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Obamacare are the same thing. ACA is the official name while Obamacare is the tongue-in-cheek moniker coined by opponents. Now, the names are used interchangeably, particularly in the media.

The ACA is a law. It was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010. Since then, it’s been unfolding in phases. (more…)

The Government Shutdown Will Affect Your Health Care. Here’s How.

My fellow Americans, I don’t want to alarm you, but the government is in official shutdown mode! On Monday, lawmakers were unable to agree to a budget and neither the House nor the Senate wanted to back down. The shutdown appears to stem from one source, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as, Obamacare. The Republican-controlled House is refusing to sign the budget unless they can add a stipulation that essentially pushes the ACA law back one full year.

Congress Shut down

Since the Affordable Care Act law was passed in 2010, some lawmakers have continued to criticize it publicly to any reporter or television camera that will listen. A common theme among ACA opponents is their love of the Constitution, though most Americans remain confused about what one has to do with the other. Last night on the satirical political talk show The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart summed it up nicely when he referred to the GOP/Obamacare fight as, “The End of America as We Know It for Reasons No One is Able to Clearly Explain.”

While the government shutdown is clearly about health care, how will it actually affect health care? In addition to the furlough of nearly one million civilian federal employees, the closing of national parks and passport offices, and the temporary stoppage of other government functions, this is what you need to know for the impact this will have on your family’s well-being.

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Obamacare is Coming for Your Corporate Wellness Program in 2014 – What it Means for You

The Affordable Care Act, first disparagingly referred to as Obamacare and now adopted as its accepted moniker, is the most sweeping and dramatic health care legislation since Medicare. It’s also one of the more divisive.health care

Proponents say it will bring health care costs down through wider preventative care; opponents say it is intrusive and sets us up for a new bloated federal bureaucracy.

One of the most important tasks in preventative care and health care cost-reduction is addressing the obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the direct and indirect medical care costs of obesity in the U.S. in 2008 was $147 billion. While obesity rates have leveled in recent years, long-term projections are still grim, with the possibility of nearly half of all Americans being obese by 2030. One report projects the majority of states will be over the 50 percent level.

While there are many myths about Obamacare, one of the better known facts about the legislation is that it will eliminate insurance companies’ ability to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions. But it’s not the utopian “health care for all” scenario some critics may think. Companies are able to more aggressively reward employees for achieving preset wellness goals, and conversely, saddling those who don’t make an effort to improve their health with higher premiums. (more…)

Health Care Tax Deductions You Can’t Afford to Overlook

If you’re like many Americans, doing your taxes is a confusing chore. Deductions are crucial elements to filing taxes, especially if you’re expecting a return. However, few people know about all their options, especially their health deductions. And as we move into 2013, the new Affordable Care Act will cause even more changes to health deduction section of your tax forms, but not as much as you might think right away.

“Most major changes brought by the Affordable Care Act will come in 2014,” advised Jean Chatzky, finance expert and journalist whose Jean Chatzky’s Money School debuts this April. However, there are a few things that Chatzky advises taxpayers watch for this year:

  • The contribution limit for Flexible Spending Accounts has been revised downward, to $2,500 beginning in 2013. There was no limit before, though most employers capped it at $5,000.
  • Medicare payroll taxes may increase for some taxpayers. Those who earn over $200,000 as an individual or $250,000 as a couple will pay 2.35% to medicare. Those who earn less will continue paying the current rate of 1.45%.

Where taxpayers can see the biggest advantage will be in their medical-related deductions.

“Many taxpayers assume they can’t reach the 7.5% threshold to deduct medical expenses, but you might be surprised if you add it all up and include everything the IRS allows,” advised Chatzky. She provided a lot of insight on the common oversights we make that can and probably will push you to the 7.5%  threshold. (more…)

Health Buzz: 2013’s Biggest Health News, Food Trends for 2013, and Our Most Pinned Recipes

It is Friday, December 21 and the Mayans were wrong! Since the world didn’t end, it is time for you to get a dose of healthy news from us and our friends! As we slowly approach the new year, we’ve compiled 2012’s most buzz worthy  healthy stories. In addition, we have our most pinned recipes of the year with a  new healthy donut recipe.

California’s Push for Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods

You couldn’t get around the web this year without seeing news about Genetically Modified Foods (GMO). Earlier this year people in California wanted their food packaging to be labeled with a GMO stamp, letting them know if it had any genetically modified ingredients. It was the people of California versus giant food industry companies, like Kelloggs and General Mills. However, Californians going up against the multi-million dollar food industry companies is easier said than done. The initiative may have failed on the ballot, but expect more big action from this movement in 2013.

The 6 Miracle Diets Dr. Oz Tried to Sell Us in 2012

Looking to lose weight without the hard work? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, if you watch the Dr. Oz show the doc will try to sell you a miracle weight loss diet in what feels like every episode. Check out the six miracle diets that Dr. Oz tried selling to the masses this year, that we debunked! We can’t wait to see what kind of miracle diets Dr. Oz will have up his sleeves for 2013.

Jillian Michaels Announces Return to Biggest Loser With a Big Twist [VIDEO]

Biggest Loser season 14 will be return with new faces, new cast members, and old faces, like Jillian Michaels! Her announcement to return to Biggest Loser was all the buzz this fall. Not only will she be motivating and training overweight adults, but she will be helping overweight children tackle their weight as well! Biggest Loser returns January 6, and the show’s new concept will surely have Americans watching, since childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in America.

New York City Soda Ban Passes; Soda Industry Plans to Fight [UPDATED]

Earlier this year, Mayor Bloomberg proposed a soda ban in New York City. Any sugary beverage over 16 ounces could not be sold in New York City. The proposal was a way Mayor Bloomberg could help fight the obesity epidemic in his city. On October 12, 2012 the soda ban was passed and now the soda industry plans to fight back. Do you think the ban will help fight obesity? Tell us what you think!

The Obamacare Vote and How it Affects the Health of Americans

Besides the 2012 presidential election, Obamacare was one of the most talked about issues in America this year. The Affordable Care Act, commonly known now as Obamacare, requires Americans to carry health insurance. For those who cannot afford health insurance the act makes it more affordable for them. There are many pros and cons to Obamacare, take a look to see how the act will affect your health. (more…)

Future of Health Care Divided During Biden’s and Ryan’s Spirited Vice Presidential Debate

During Friday night’s campaign debate, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan squared off to discuss the nation’s problems and how their administration will solve them. Between focusing on complicated foreign policy issues, moderator Martha Raddatz asked about the future of health care in America: “Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process. Will benefits for Americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive?”

The debate got very heated as each candidate has completely different views about how Medicare should be funded. Ryan began his answer with a strong statement, “Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts.” He went on to say how the program has helped his family and how he will honor his promise to keep it funded for future generations. He differs from the Obama administration in that he and Romney want to reform Medicare and take $716 billion currently going to Obamacare and give it back to Medicare. Ryan criticized Obama’s plan to have a board overseeing the health care programs.

Biden shot back by appealing directly to seniors to ask themselves if they have more benefits than before Obama came into office. While avoiding major political gaffes during the debate, Biden delivered clear messages about his views, like when he spoke about Republicans, saying, “Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad, and they eliminate the guarantee of Medicare.” (more…)