Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: 2013 healthcare changes

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jan 18, 2013 9:10 AM

Radio Smart Talk for Friday, January 18:


Americans may be living through the calm before the storm of healthcare reform this year. 

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, there will be new healthcare rules and changes in 2013, but 2014 shapes up as the headliner for President Obama's signature piece of legislation.  That's when the individual mandate that requires all Americans to obtain health insurance or face fines becomes law.  It also is when insurance companies must accept customers, even if they have a pre-existing condition.

That doesn't mean changes for 2013 are insignificant.  As of January 1, a number of tax law-related changes went into effect.  Other changes include increased Medicaid payments to primary care doctors and more funding to Children's Health Insurance (CHIPS) programs.  

The most visible part of the new law for patients could be improvements in preventive health coverage.  There will be new funding to state Medicaid programs that choose to cover preventive services for patients at little or no cost.

As part of witf's ongoing Transforming Health project, Friday's Radio Smart Talk will examine and answer questions about ACA changes implemented in 2013.

Listen to the program:


Shelly Bloom answers listeners' questions about the Affordable Care Act.



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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-18 09:13

    E-mail from Brad:

    "Is it likely that companies will suspend offering health insurance benefits to employees and instead offer them “more” money and advise them to secure the coverage through the marketplace? If so, is that viable for most employes?"

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-18 09:19

    E-mail from Lisa:

    "Could your guest discuss the implications of the ACA on seasonal staff?"

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-18 09:20

    E-mail from Leah:

    "What will be the options for part-time employees after 2014 for companies that have to offer healthcare options? I know that a lot of companies will cut their employees down to fewer than 30 hours simply to avoid having to offer healthcare. What will those people do?"

  • sushamaj img 2013-01-18 09:44

    Is it possible to buy short term visitors insurance for international visitors?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-18 09:45

    E-mail from Sassy:

    "The ACA is supposed to increase pay to primary care physicians (FP's, GP's, Internists, Pediatricians, OB-Gyns). We precepted medical students almost every year for 15 years in hopes of attracting them to Family Care, particularly in a rural setting. Most of them loved their time with us and said they would consider rural family practice, but eventually only ONE of them went into any type of primary care. We sometimes heard from them later, and the reason was nearly always the low pay and huge hassles associated with primary care. Also, most of them had loans to pay back.

    Until the medical system compensates primary care providers well, we will continue to have a shortage in this area. That is why there is such a shortage now.

    Separately, I would like to know whether there is provision for capping the costs of insurance. I understand there are subsidies, but if the premiums continue to rise, people will still not be able to afford coverage. This is, after all, called the Affordable Care Act!!"

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-18 09:48

    E-mail from E.:

    "Many of the things that your guest is suggesting will result from the Affordable Care Act have already been happening. My former small employer saw huge increases in their premiums every year--12%, 18%, and even more. My child's employer has, for many years, worked to manage their workforce so that they could use multiple part time employees and avoid paying healthcare and retirement benefits.

    Insurance Companies have, for some time, often required that the companies they insure to offer health insurance to entire classes of employees who were full time AND required that the employers have a certain percentage of participation from eligible employees. Obviously, that was good for their business. Such requirements are not new, but they are now more uniform nationally.

    I've been told that small business with under 50 FTE employees, who now provide health care, are better off now because of tax credits or some other subsidy for providing health insurance. Is this true? What are the details?"

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-18 09:50

    E-mail from Jen:

    "Is it feasible to assume that at some point there may be an option for an employee to prove they have coverage through a spouse or other plan (ie: military, etc.) in order to be eligible to work in excess of 30 hours per week? In these scenarios the employee would be denying coverage offered to them by their current employer because of having coverage elsewhere."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-18 09:51

    E-mail from Jon:

    "May a part-timer working over 27 hours turn down the health insurance coverage required of employers?"

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-18 09:53

    E-mail from Jen:

    "I am a manager at a local restaurant and because of the Affordable Care Act am being told that any part-time servers are not able to work over 30 hours each week in order to avoid having to offer them benefits. A number of my employees are asking why this applies to them when they already have coverage through pension plans or their spouses and would deny coverage anyway. Our company employs over 50 full time employees. Thank you for your response."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-18 09:54

    E-mail from Philippa:

    "I would rather have everyone wait 6 weeks than have some people not have care because they cannot get coverage. Any system will have flaws but I do not see how a developed civilized nation can still find it OK that people do not have equal access to healthcare."

  • Robert D Colgan img 2013-01-18 10:24


    The insanity of ACA and its 2000+ pages of gobbledygook was intended largely as obfuscation to keep the populace in great confusion ...the same device of distraction magicians use to hide their trickery.

    Shitcan the ACA and implement MedicareForAll -------blanket coverage for everyone in the USA. If our leaders can find ways to fund the insane wars costing trillions they can find some way to fund the expansion of Medicare....let the insurers write supplemental policies for electives like cosmetics--------but get them out of their current power position of telling the American people what they can and can't do. Ohhhh, and nationalize Big PHRMA while you're at it....most of them are crooks masquerading as legitimate business and we taxpayers already financially cover a lot of the research costs.