5 changes healthcare reform will have on everyday life

A law as far-reaching as health care reform legislation with 2,407 pages and a $1.76 trillion price tag is bound to contain programs and grants that are overlooked.  For the record this is what it looks like:  $1,760,000,000,000.  (Sadly, this took me about 10 minutes to figure out the correct number of zeros!).

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes millions in spending on different programs designed to improve your health outside of your physician’s office. Here are some of the most interesting:

1.)  Health Care reform will require restaurants with more than 20 restaurants to disclose the number of calories each entree has on the menu to promote healthier eating.  Smaller chains are not required to disclose calories at this time.

2.)  Some communities just aren’t set up for a healthy lifestyle. The health care reform law provides up to $50 million for Community Transformation Grants to promote access to healthy food and to encourage exercise.  These grants will be awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and could be used for projects such as creating healthy, school-lunch programs and building bike lanes and sidewalks.

3.)  Small business workplace wellness programs. Ever wish your office had a gym or you could get some kind of healthy food from the break room vending machine? The new law provides $200 million in grants to small businesses to create healthier work environments for employees, offer incentives for workers to eat better and to exercise, and even offer free tests and medical screenings at work.

4.)  Web based healthcare tools. We are all probably guilty of Googling health advice that may or may not be accurate. The health care reform law calls for creation of a Web-based tool to give consumers access to up-to-date medical research, calculate their susceptibility to certain diseases and get personalized suggestions on how to stay healthy.

5.)  Break time for nursing mothers.  More babies will enjoy the health benefits many attribute to nursing, thanks to a new requirement that employers provide reasonable break time and a place other than a bathroom for nursing mothers to use a breast pump.

As these things become the new normal, it will be interesting to see which changes provide the most benefit and savings.  I personally think the requirement of calories on menus will make a big difference!