Healthcare Medical Feed

Californians who just can't kick their nicotine habit are now paying substantially more for their addiction. Effective April 1, the Golden State's tobacco tax went up by $2 per a pack of cigarettes. The state's tax on smoking now is $2.87 per pack. And while that is indeed a massive jump, it's just catching up on years of a low tax rate. It's been 20 years since California increased its cigarette tax. The tax increase, the final tax amount and the years it's taken for California to get here each were in the running for this week's By the Numbers... Read more →


Most high-income investors last were likely a little bummed last week when the Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act failed. It didn't have anything to do with their personal opinions on Obamacare or health care in general. It meant that the Net Investment Income Tax, or NIIT, remains on the books. This 3.8 percent surtax is assessed on capital gains, dividends, interest, and other passive income earned by single investors making more than $200,000 a year or $250,000 if married filing jointly. It was one of the many ACA-related taxes that would have been repealed if the GOP... Read more →


Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, have increased in popularity since they were created in 2004. More than 20 million people now have these particular medical savings plans, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey last fall. KFF's analysis also found that the average account balance grew by more than a third last year to more than $1,800. Growth of HSAs could speed up under a Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Various GOP alternatives for Obamacare call for expansion of HSAs. High deductibles required: HSAs not only offer a way for account owners to pay medical bills, they... Read more →


A couple of Republican-proposed changes to Obamacare would affect a popular individual savings option, the medical flexible spending account, or FSA. Many of the items this shopper can find on her local pharmacy's shelves are eligible for flexible spending account reimbursement. (Photo courtesy FSAStore.com) Tax-saving company benefit: An FSA is a benefit offered by many companies where workers can have a certain amount taken from their paychecks every pay period and placed into a special account. These accounts can help you cover such things as child care, commuting and medical expenses. Even better, the money is put into the FSA... Read more →


Republicans took a major step toward tax reform on Monday, March 6, with their health care replacement plan that kills more than a dozen Obamacare taxes. Donald Trump greets House Speaker Paul Ryan before the new president's first address on Feb. 28 to a joint session of Congress. The two men now must work together to enact a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. (Photo courtesy Speaker of the House) Not only would the Affordable Care Act (ACA) changes erase some levies from the tax reform slate, passage of a GOP replacement health care plan also would clear the decks... Read more →


Senators and Representatives are headed back to their states and Congressional districts for the long President's Day weekend. Tucked into the bags that Republicans are taking home are some talking points on how they plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare. Image by Shawn Campbell via Flickr Creative Commons The Grand Old Party's policy paper says it aims to "provide relief from all the Obamacare tax increases." That's a big list. 4 targeted ACA taxes: The independent website Obamacare Facts lists 21 taxes, seven of which directly affected individuals. I've culled that individual... Read more →


The 115th Congress has been in session less than a week, but the Representatives and Senators are wasting no time in introducing legislation. The 115th Congress convened on Jan. 3. During their first short week of work, Representatives and Senators have introduced eight tax measures. (Photo by Ottojula via Wikimedia Commons) Since the Jan. 3 swearing in (and my Congess.gov search this afternoon), 490 bills have been introduced, 428 in the House and 62 in the Senate. And even though there's greater hope that we'll finally get some sort of comprehensive tax reform, that's not stopping individual lawmakers from putting... Read more →


I got in my car for the first time in 2017 today. It also was my first use of my new mileage log. Yep, that pretty little pink spiral notebook is this year's tracking device of all my potentially tax deductible miles. And yep, those of you who know me know that I'm not really a pink kind of gal. This notebook was tucked in bag I got at a conference. Over the years, I've attended a lot of conferences and gotten a whole lot of similar notebooks, so I use a new one each tax year. What miles to... Read more →


Donald Trump doesn't move into the Oval Office for 15 more days, but the Republican-control Congress is working on legislation for him to sign into law shortly after he settles into his new digs. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) was on CNBC's Squawk Box this week to discuss House efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare. Click image to watch the full interview. One of the president-elect's campaign promises was to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known (for a while longer) as Obamacare. That won't be easy, either politically and pragmatically. Delayed repeal... Read more →


There weren't any major tax bills in 2016. That's going to change in some form in 2017 now that the Republicans control Congress and the White House. via GIPHY But there still were plenty of tax-related matters that got attention last year. Below is my list of top 10 tax stories of 2016, starting with the one I saw as most important. And as a bonus, I also pulled out my slightly cracked crystal ball -- really, who saw the presidential election turning out like it did? -- to forecast five tax issues that we're likely to see in 2017.... Read more →


The enactment of the 21st Century Cares Act this week means medical researchers will get more money for their efforts to develop a variety of treatments for persistent and devastating health problems. The new law also opens up a tax-favored medical plan option for folks who work for small companies. Vice President Joe Biden (center) is recognized during the ceremony in which the 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law. The bill is close to Biden's heart. He lost his son Beau to brain cancer. Following that personal tragedy, President Obama tapped his veep (and friend) to lead the... Read more →


Your business-related driving probably won't save you as much on your taxes in 2017. The reason? The Internal Revenue Service announced today that the optional standard mileage rate for business use of your vehicle is a half-cent less than in 2016. A trip to the vet likely won't count as a tax deductible medical expense, but other allowable miles in 2017 can be claimed at 17 cents apiece. It drops on Jan. 1, 2017, to 53.5 cents per mile. For the final few days of 2016, the business mileage rate is 54 cents per mile. Along with a smaller per-mile... Read more →


It's December 1. December. The last month of the year. How the heck did that happen!?! It hasn't even gotten good and cold yet here in Central Texas. We -- OK the hubby, at my nagging request -- put our Christmas tree up the first week of November this year. That means I have all of December to focus on taxes! OK. I've got my calendar and weather rant under control. But my urgency about how quickly 2016 is passing remains. That means we're rapidly running out of time -- check the countdown clock there in the right hand column... Read more →


After a cordial Oval Office meeting with President Obama, the incoming 45th commander in chief doesn't seem so inclined to pull the plug on the health care program. Mr. Trump goes to Washington, specifically the White House to meet with President Obama the day after the GOP candidate won the 2016 presidential election. (White House YouTube video screenshot) Repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was one of Donald J. Trump's core campaign messages. As soon as the election results seemed clear, opponents of Obamacare, as the health program is popularly known, were exultant. With a Republican president joining... Read more →


It's November. You know what that means. Yes, the presidential election will be over next week. But November also means that we have two months to make some tax moves to ensure we don't encounter any tax turkeys. Don't be gobbled up by tax concerns. Make these November tax moves. (South Park/Comedy Central turkeys via GIPHY) Health care considerations: November kicked off with open season for Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, enrollment. If you don't get medical insurance at work, you should check out the Health Care Marketplace for coverage. You'll need minimal essential coverage or you'll owe a tax... Read more →


Welcome to Part 5 of the ol' blog's series on 2017 inflation adjustments. We're halfway through the series, and you can find links to all 2017 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Today we look at changes to some medical tax provisions. Note: The 2017 figures apply to 2017 returns that are due in 2018. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2016 amounts to be used in filing 2016 returns due next April. How are you feeling? If not so well, then by all means get to the doctor. And be sure to use some... Read more →


Donald J. Trump finally has released some traditionally private information about himself. No, not his taxes you dreamers. His most recent medical records. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shares his recent medical report during a taping Sept. 14 of the syndicated Dr. Oz show. The program will air today, Sept. 15. Click image for link to YouTube promo; link will be updated for full show viewing when available. But being The Donald, he did it (with apologies to Frank) his way. On TV of course. Trump shared his most recent medical data with television's syndicated, and controversial, Dr. Oz. From... Read more →


Ezekiel Elliott's visit to a Seattle marijuana retailer was the big weed news this week, and yes, pot has received lots of headlines lately (more on this a little later). Apparently amazed visitors to the cannabis display at the Oregon State Fair in Salem, the first time pot plants have been open for public viewing at any U.S. state fair. This is just one piece of pot news so far this month. Click image to view the AP video via USA Today. I admit that as a Dallas Cowboys fan, I spent an inordinate amount of time following the first-round... Read more →


I have allergies, but they are just the run-of-the-mill inconveniences -- sniffles, sneezing, red eyes. Neither my life nor those of my loved ones depend on immediate treatment for an allergic reaction. Photo by Tokyogirl79 via Wikipedia Folks who rely on EpiPens, however, are in a really terrible place right now. EpiPen price increases: These injectable devices deliver a pre-measured dose of epinephrine (adrenaline) to people who are having a potentially deadly allergic reaction. The shot reverses anaphylaxis, which is the swelling, closing of the airways and other symptoms suffered by many who are allergic to bee stings, peanuts or... Read more →


Are you one of the around 10 million taxpayers who got an extension to file? I was. Are you one of this group who's yet to file a tax return? I am. What are we waiting for? We paid any tax we owed, or a close guesstimation of our tax bill, when we filed for the extra six months back in April. So we're not that worried about a big tax bill. And we fully intended to get to the tax task sooner rather than later. But we woke up today, took a look at the calendar (or our smartphone)... Read more →