ObamaCare makes braces, glasses more expensive for some families

posted at 7:41 pm on December 13, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

As with all the other predictable consequences of Obamacare, critics of the law pointed out that changes to FSA regulations—Flexible Spending Accounts— would cause problems for families who used the accounts for health expenses not necessarily entirely covered by insurance, such as eyewear, orthodontics, and private school or tutoring for children with special needs.

An FSA allows families to put away a certain amount of pre-tax dollars each year, with the stipulation that whatever is unspent is forfeited. They used to be allowed to spend those dollars on all kinds of health-related over-the-counter items until Obamacare’s passage set stricter rules. Before Obamacare, there was no government-imposed limit on contributions to an FSA, though there were sometimes limits set by employers. Obamacare mandates that no one can contribute more than $2,500 a year. On paper, this did two things Democrats love— take away a consumer choice and raise money to offset the cost of Obamacare.

Before the new rule, there was no official cap on how much taxpayers could stash into the account, though many companies typically set their own limits of $5,000. For a person in the 25 percent tax bracket, the cap cuts the maximum tax break in half to $625 from $1,250.

For families who relied on the accounts to help them cover the costs of pricey medical services like braces, the cap indirectly raises their costs, says Gayle Glenn, president of the American Association of Orthodontists, which along with some other medical groups is calling for the cap to be eliminated. About 65 percent of the roughly 17,000 orthodontists surveyed by the association in 2009 said their patients used FSAs to pay for treatment.

And with the cost of braces ranging from $5,000 to $7,000, many families are likely max out their FSA contributions to pay for them, says Glenn, whose association recently circulated a letter for orthodontists to publish in their local newspapers, encouraging people to write to Congress to challenge the cap. “We want people to be aware,” says Glenn.

On the upside for FSA users, the federal government did away with the forfeit rule, so funds of up to $500 can now roll over from year to year. Aren’t they generous with the way they let you keep fractions of fractions of your money? Frankly, at this point, FSA rules change so frequently and are so burdensome, they’ve been rendered more work than they’re worth for all but the most dedicated users. And again, Democrat rejoice. People like Yesha Callahan clearly didn’t know what was good for them.

Eventually we made our way to the orthodontist, and thankfully the price for a 2 year treatment wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. My dental insurance was able to negotiate a price that turned out to be half of what the orthodontist initially quoted me. On the day of service I ended up paying only $1700 for braces and follow up appointments.

So braces were a done deal.

Let’s also calculate the several emergency room visits, the 4 day stay at Johns Hopkins because of his asthma issues, as well as prescription costs. All of this was before I found out my son needed glasses.

If I hadn’t set up my FSA, I truly don’t know how much credit card debit I would have possibly ran up because of the bills and co-pays we amassed over the past year.

Obamacare advocates will argue that pediatric dental and vision coverage were made totally better by the “essential health benefits” package Obamacare mandates, but a) those benefit definitions differ by state, so it’s hard to which families will see a net benefit after being robbed of their old option and b) many people are finding those plans more expensive and less attractive than their former options. And, you can’t access them on the exchange anyway, so it doesn’t matter a whole lot.

Hey, but I’m sure none of the families who need braces for multiple kids and glasses to go with them are in the middle class or struggling. And, I’m sure all the families who used FSA funds for their special-needs children will be comforted by their months-long wait times in a health care exchange where they can’t even pay for their policies. We knew all this four years ago, but reassuring Obamacare claims that were “half-true” back then have a way of becoming recognized as big ol’ lies lately. It’s worth reminding ourselves of them.


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Embrace the suck

forest on December 13, 2013 at 7:47 PM

…tough!

KOOLAID2 on December 13, 2013 at 7:47 PM

ObamaCare makes braces, glasses more expensive for some families

But the only ones affected are middle class people who either need glasses or braces. For everyone else, the price is decreasing or fully subsidized by the middle class.

Wino on December 13, 2013 at 7:48 PM

ObamaCare makes braces, glasses more expensive for some families

Where are the GOP anti-Obamacare ads featuring a family filled with buck-toothed myopic children?

Seriously, the left would be all over exploiting this kind of situation. They even turned Mitt Romney into a cancer-giver!

Happy Nomad on December 13, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Obamacare advocates will argue that pediatric dental and vision coverage were made totally better by the “essential health benefits” package Obamacare mandates

Sure, once the deductible-equal-to-the-price-of-a-small-car is met.

Bitter Clinger on December 13, 2013 at 7:51 PM

They’d best hope somebody can spare them some change…

viking01 on December 13, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Romney promised to repeal Obamacare on day 1 but people didn’t want him because his wife has a horse.

vityas on December 13, 2013 at 7:57 PM

…reassuring Obamacare claims that were “half-true” back then have a way of becoming recognized as big ol’ lies lately. It’s worth reminding ourselves of them.

On the mark.

David Blue on December 13, 2013 at 7:58 PM

Romney promised to repeal Obamacare on day 1 but people didn’t want him because his wife has a horse.

vityas on December 13, 2013 at 7:57 PM

Whites voted for him, by 59%. Whites of both sexes and all voting age groups voted for him.

I guess non-whites don’t like women who have horses. And single women don’t much care for women who keep their husbands.

David Blue on December 13, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Funerals will be cheaper though. I would certainly think so anyway with all the volume discounts that should come about under ObamaCare.

VorDaj on December 13, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Bend over and brace for it, you will never see it coming.

astonerii on December 13, 2013 at 8:02 PM

The Fascist-Democrats hate children.

rbj on December 13, 2013 at 8:02 PM

Romney promised to repeal Obamacare on day 1 but people didn’t want him because his wife has a horse.

vityas on December 13, 2013 at 7:57 PM

and a dog on his car. What don’t you get?
/

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 13, 2013 at 8:02 PM

Everything has gone up. I can’t afford beefsteak.

davidk on December 13, 2013 at 8:03 PM

The Fascist-Democrats hate children.

rbj on December 13, 2013 at 8:02 PM

They think we’re all chilwen.

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 13, 2013 at 8:04 PM

Homer Simpson reacts to obozocare.

Flange on December 13, 2013 at 8:05 PM

ObamaCare is causing human suffering.

It is also causing DEATH.

SparkPlug on December 13, 2013 at 8:19 PM

No biggie. Obama has assured me that my health insurance costs will go down by $2,500 – so I’ll be able to use that to pay for my child’s care. /

Hill60 on December 13, 2013 at 8:21 PM

ObamaCare is causing human suffering.

It is also causing DEATH.

SparkPlug on December 13, 2013 at 8:19 PM

Obama, Mengela’s Spawn, through your arrogance, heartlessness and stupidity, you have opened this formally blessed land and millions of innocent lives to the horror and devastation of ObamaCare…

VorDaj on December 13, 2013 at 8:53 PM

One of the “stealth taxes” I complained about at the time. Medical expenses are still deductible on taxes- provided you itemize & don’t take a standard deduction. (Which many do, so stealth tax increase). They also changed the rules so only prescription meds qualified for FSA- prior to Obamacare, you could also use it for over-the-counter meds.

cs89 on December 13, 2013 at 9:09 PM

One of the “stealth taxes” I complained about at the time. Medical expenses are still deductible on taxes- provided you itemize & don’t take a standard deduction. (Which many do, so stealth tax increase). They also changed the rules so only prescription meds qualified for FSA- prior to Obamacare, you could also use it for over-the-counter meds.

cs89 on December 13, 2013 at 9:09 PM

cs89 on December 13, 2013 at 9:09 PM

I read this somewhere before!! :-)

Deano1952 on December 13, 2013 at 9:16 PM

ObamaCare is causing human suffering.

It is also causing DEATH.

SparkPlug on December 13, 2013 at 8:19 PM

.
Only to people who aren’t really worthy to exist, anyway.

listens2glenn on December 13, 2013 at 9:58 PM

Oops.

cs89 on December 13, 2013 at 10:11 PM

Ah, the old salesman pitch line comes to mind: ‘Its cheaper at TWICE the price!’

That is the world of Obamacare.

Let It Burn.

ajacksonian on December 14, 2013 at 7:45 AM

ObamaCare makes braces, glasses more expensive for some families

Braces could put one in the poor house before fubarcare, now it’s a certainty.

On the other hand, glasses were relatively cheap as long as a pair didn’t break more than once a year. Fubarcare will require everyone wearing glasses to keep an ample supply of scotch tape and super glue on hand at all times.

rukiddingme on December 15, 2013 at 2:51 AM