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Three health care reforms coming this year

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Health care reform won’t kick in fully until 2014. That’s when health care exchanges will roll out and employers will have to decide whether they want to continue offering health care insurance to employees or pay a fine and make them enter an exchange on their own.

But 2013 has some start dates as well.

GoHealthInsurance, a Chicago-based online health care exchange, is out with three key developments on the health care front for consumers in ’13, especially on how they can deduct medical expenses.

READ: What Obamacare means to you

"The big date on everyone's mind is understandably 2014, when the ACA goes into effect in its entirety," says Mark Colwell, a consumer marketing manager at the firm. "However, under the health care reform law, 2013 brings about some key changes that Americans may not be aware of."

Adjustments on deductible health care expenses. Expect significant changes in the way you can deduct medical expenses this coming tax season.

This year, consumers can deduct medical expenses that exceed 10% of their adjusted gross income, up from 7.5% in previous years. That means the medical expenses deduction “floor” has been raised, and you won’t get the same bang for your medical-care-tax-expenses-exemption buck. Typical medical expenses include payments to doctors and surgeons, braces for the kids or even acupuncture treatments.

READ: Why upheld Obamacare is great news for older Americans

Fatter Medicaid payments. Some good news for states (and qualified people who live in them). Any state that elects to cover preventive services — a big priority under Obamacare — will garner more federal funding in 2013. Examples of preventive services include cancer check-ups and screenings, blood pressure checks and flu vaccinations.

More cash for CHIP funding. Under reforms kicking in this year on federal payments for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, about 7 million young American up to age 19 who are not Medicaid eligible will get two more years of full coverage. This provision won’t start until Oct. 1.

In addition, U.S. primary care physicians with Medicare patients will get a “guaranteed” increase in Medicaid payments, a move GoHealthInsurance says will build primary care doctor capacity in underserved areas.

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