TIME Food

Man Can’t Sue Applebee’s for Burns He Got While Praying Over Fajitas

POUGHKEEPSIE, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2014/10/25: Applebee's restaurant exterior logo. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)
John Greim—Getty Images

According to a new court ruling

A New Jersey man who was burned by a plate of hot fajitas while dining at Applebee’s can’t sue the restaurant over his injuries, according to an appellate court.

Hiram Jimenez took the chain restaurant to court because he said his waitress failed to alert him that his meal was hot. After being served, the court ruling says he bowed his head to pray over the crackling plate, and some oil popped and burned his face. Jimenez says he then panicked and knocked the plate in his lap, causing more burns, none of which resulted in scars, according to court records.

He filed suit seeking damages on the grounds that he suffered “serious and permanent” injuries “solely as a result of (Applebee’s) negligence when he came in contact with a dangerous and hazardous condition, specifically, ‘a plate of hot food’.”

A trial judge dismissed the suit, finding Applebee’s had no duty to warn Jimenez “against a danger that is open and obvious” like a sizzling hot plate of fajitas. Jimenez appealed, but an appellate panel confirmed the lower court ruling, saying Applebee’s can’t be held responsible because the hot food posed an a risk that should be “self-evident” and thus “approached with due care.”

[H/T USA Today]

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 5

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. 2.7 million American children have a parent in prison. We can learn from South Africa’s belief in a “right to childhood.”

By Lauren Lee White at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy

2. Imagine handling an ancient artifact or typing on a virtual keyboard. Holograms you can feel are here.

By Anthony Cuthbertson in International Business Times

3. One school district is bringing down the silos between art, computer science and technology education to give kids skills for the future.

By Todd Keruskin in EdSurge

4. They cost less and give patients a better experience. It’s time to drop the barriers on nurse practitioners.

By Matthew Yglesias in Vox

5. To keep their labs supplied with cheap labor, universities are churning out PhDs. But there’s no work for them after graduation.

By Brenda Iasevoli in The Hechinger Report

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Supreme Court

Obamacare Arguments Center on Chief Justice

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act gather in front of the U.S Supreme Court during a rally in Washington on March 4, 2015.
Alex Wong—Getty Images Supporters of the Affordable Care Act gather in front of the U.S Supreme Court during a rally in Washington on March 4, 2015.

John Roberts saved the law in 2012, but he played his cards close to the vest Wednesday

Chief Justice John Roberts once again holds the fate of Obamacare in his hands.

The conservative Supreme Court Justice who provided the crucial vote to save the Affordable Care Act in 2012 was at the center of many of the arguments Wednesday on another legal challenge to the law. But like the eye of a hurricane, he remained quiet.

Roberts made only two substantive remarks during the hour and a half of oral arguments on King v. Burwell. One was to casually dismiss a line of argument pursued by liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had peppered an attorney behind the lawsuit with questions over whether the plaintiffs had the standing to sue. The other was to note that a future President — presumably a Republican — could reverse the Obama Administration’s readings of the law.

But Roberts was the unspoken audience for an argument made by two other Justices because of his reasoning in the last Obamacare challenge. In that decision, he argued that Congress could not force states to expand Medicaid by threatening them financially — something he compared to putting “a gun to the head.”

This time around, liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor and conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy argued that if Congress made health-insurance subsidies dependent on whether a state set up its own exchange — the argument that conservative lawyers were making — that would be similarly improper coercion.

“If we read it the way you’re saying, then we’re going to read the statute as intruding on the federal-state relationship,” Sotomayor told a lawyer for the plaintiffs. “Because then the states are going to be coerced into establishing their own exchanges.”

Kennedy was even more blunt. “If your argument is accepted, the states are being told either create your own exchange, or we’ll send your insurance market into a death spiral,” he said. “The cost of insurance will be sky­ high, but this is not coercion. It seems to me that … there’s a serious constitutional problem if we adopt your argument.”

Two other conservatives, Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, questioned whether the dire warnings that the federal government has presented as potential consequences of a decision really would come true.

“You really think Congress is just going to sit there while all of these disastrous consequences ensue?” Scalia asked. “Congress adjusts, enacts a statute that takes care of the problem. It happens all the time.”

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli then earned a laugh when he responded, “Well, this Congress…”

TIME Supreme Court

4 Ways the Supreme Court Could Rule on Obamacare

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act gather in front of the U.S Supreme Court during a rally in Washington on March 4, 2015.
Alex Wong—Getty Images Supporters of the Affordable Care Act gather in front of the U.S Supreme Court during a rally in Washington on March 4, 2015.

The health care law is once again before the high court

When the Supreme Court last considered the Affordable Care Act, the argument was easy to follow: Does the federal government have the power to force people to buy health insurance?

The question this time is a lot more complicated.

As the justices discussed a single line in the law Wednesday, they were debating issues of administrative law precedent, congressional intent and interpretation of statutory language. But the bottom line is still the same. If the court’s majority rules a certain way, the law would collapse, causing as many as eight million people to lose their health insurance.

The case centers on whether states need to set up their own health insurance exchanges under the law for their residents to qualify for subsidies that make it affordable.

Here’s a quick look at four ways the court could rule.

The Liberal Hail Mary

The ruling: The majority finds that the people bringing the lawsuit don’t have the standing to sue and throws out the case without ruling on the merits.

The argument: One plaintiff listed her address as a motel. The others might qualify for veterans health care or Medicare, which would make their claims of being hurt by the law a moot point.

Why they would do it: Chief Justice John Roberts might agree with the liberal justices as a face-saving way to make the case go away. He was quiet during oral arguments Wednesday.

Why they wouldn’t do it: Even if three of the four plaintiffs don’t have standing, if the fourth did, the case could move forward. It’s a longshot.

The Ironic Precedent

The ruling: The majority finds that forcing states to create their own health insurance exchanges at the risk of their residents losing subsidies is improper coercion.

The argument: Without the subsidies, a state’s health insurance market would fall into a “death spiral.” That means the law would effectively force states to build one.

Why they would do it: In its last decision, the court overturned a part of the law forcing states to expand Medicaid, saying it was coercive. Justice Anthony Kennedy seemed open to that logic again.

Why they wouldn’t do it: It’s a constitutional argument, which is a bigger deal than for the justices to simply interpret the law’s wording.

The ‘Not Our Problem’

The ruling: The majority finds that the law is poorly written but needs to be interpreted strictly, essentially saying the court’s hands are tied.

The argument: Congress didn’t do its job well when it passed the final version of the bill, but it’s not up to the White House — or the court, for that matter — to fix it.

Why they would do it: The Supreme Court regularly throws laws back to Congress to fix. They’ve done it recently it with a fair pay law, the Voting Rights Act and campaign finance law.

Why they wouldn’t do it: Precedent. In the most-cited administrative law case in history, the Supreme Court found that the White House should have leeway to interpret poorly worded laws.

The Conservative Hail Mary

The ruling: The majority finds that Congress intended for a state’s residents to be denied subsidies if the state didn’t set up its own insurance exchange.

The argument: An MIT economist who helped design the law once said that in an academic lecture that has since gone viral in conservative circles.

Why they would do it: The lawsuit’s supporters have argued that Democrats in Congress intended this all along. Going along with that argument would avoid the problem of legal precedent.

Why they wouldn’t do it: There’s lots of evidence, such as interviews with the staffers who actually wrote the law, that Congress didn’t intend this. It’s a longshot.

MONEY Health Care

Here’s the Tough Choice the Uninsured Have to Make Now

piggy bank and bottle of pills balancing on either side of a seesaw
Pogonici—Shutterstock

The deadline to enroll in a health insurance plan has been extended—but a quirk in the rules leaves the uninsured with a tricky decision to make.

Americans who didn’t sign up for health insurance by the February 15 end of open enrollment face two serious risks: no insurance coverage for the rest of 2015, and a possible tax penalty next April. Open enrollment for 2016 plans doesn’t start until next October.

What’s more, many who went without health insurance last year—when Obamacare’s requirement that all Americans have insurance, what’s known as the individual mandate, went into effect—are already facing a penalty on their 2014 tax returns.

Many of these uninsured Americans got a break last week. The Obama administration announced a special open enrollment period last Friday. If you still don’t have 2015 health coverage, you did not know about the tax penalty until you worked on your tax return, and you owe a penalty for 2014, you can enroll in a 2015 plan via Healthcare.gov between March 15 and April 30. The second chance is available to people who live in the 34 states with a federally-run insurance marketplace and who file their federal taxes after February 15.

This deadline extension could help a lot of people: Late last year, 44% of uninsured Americans said they had heard little to nothing about Obamacare’s individual tax penalty, according to a poll by the Urban Institute.

There’s a twist, however: To qualify for the extension, you must be subject to the tax penalty, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. But most Americans who are still uninsured could qualify for an exemption from the tax. Take it, and you don’t get more time to buy health coverage for this year.

The Choice

There are more than two dozen ways to get out of paying the Obamacare penalty: you earn less than the tax filing threshold, your cheapest plan costs more than 8% of your income, you were uninsured for less than three months, you filed for bankruptcy, or you had some other hardship.

Altogether, the government estimates that only 2% to 4% of taxpayers will owe the fee. Another 10% to 20% are uninsured but are exempt from the penalty. Those taxpayers have two options:

  1. Pay the tax for 2014 and buy health coverage for 2015 during the special enrollment period, which has the added benefit of getting you out of the penalty next year.
  2. Claim an exemption from the tax for 2014 and go without health insurance again in 2015 (and potentially face the tax again next year).

“The taxpayer needs to make a choice,” says Tara Straw, senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “It would seem a no-brainer, a week ago, that you would claim an exemption if you were eligible for it. But now, there really should be a discussion about whether it’s better to take the exemption someone is eligible for, or pay a penalty and have a special enrollment period.”

The Potential Penalty

The penalty for being uninsured for all of 2014 is either $95 per person in your family (capped at $285), or 1% of your income (capped at the price of the average premiums for a bronze plan), whichever is higher.

H&R Block has found that so far, the average Obamacare penalty for its clients is $172, decreasing the average refund by 5%.

“It’s definitely a significant amount of money for people who might be low-income and might have a lot of plans and expectations for what they might do with the tax refund,” Straw says. “But we need to weigh that against the fact that the penalty next year is much higher.”

In 2016, the penalty will be either $325 per person in your family (capped at $975), or 2% of your income (capped at the price of the national average premium for a bronze plan in 2015—to be determined), whichever is higher.

The Bottom Line

Are you faced with this choice? Keep in mind that health insurance may be less expensive than you think. If your income is less than 400% of the federal poverty level—$95,400 for a family of four in 2015—you’ll likely qualify for a subsidized premium.

HHS found that 87% of the people who bought an Obamacare plan qualified for this tax credit, bring the price of health insurance down to an average of just $82 a month. Use the Kaiser Family Foundation’s calculator to get an estimate of your costs.

Also, if your income is less than 133% of the poverty line—$15,654 for a single person in 2015, $32,253 for a family of four—you could qualify for Medicaid. You can sign up for Medicaid any time during the year, Straw says.

“It’s unfortunate that some people might be put in this position, but at the end of the day, if someone can enroll in coverage and avoid paying a penalty for 2015, that’s still a good deal,” Straw says.

MONEY Obamacare

Everything You Need to Know About the Latest Challenge to Obamacare

140603_FF_QA_Obamacare_illo_1
Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Next week the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that could have a huge impact on millions of consumers. Here's what it's all about.

The Affordable Care Act is once again before the Supreme Court.

On March 4, the justices will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell, a case challenging the validity of tax subsidies helping millions of Americans buy health insurance if they don’t get it through an employer or the government. If the court rules against the Obama administration, those subsidies could be cut off for everyone in the three dozen states using healthcare.gov, the federal exchange website. A decision is expected by the end of June.

Here are five things you should know about the case and its potential consequences:

1. This case does NOT challenge the constitutionality of the health law.

The Supreme Court has already found the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. That was settled in 2012’s NFIB v. Sebelius.

At issue in this case is a line in the law stipulating that subsidies are available to those who sign up for coverage “through an exchange established by the state.” In issuing regulations to implement the subsidies in 2012, however, the IRS said that subsidies would also be available to those enrolling through the federal health insurance exchange. The agency noted Congress had never discussed limiting the subsidies to state-run exchanges and that making subsidies available to all “is consistent with the language, purpose and structure” of the law as a whole.

Last summer, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond ruled that the regulations were a permissible interpretation of the law. While the three-judge panel agreed that the language in the law is “ambiguous,” they relied on so-called “Chevron deference,” a legal principle that takes its name from a 1984 Supreme Court ruling that held that courts must defer to a federal agency’s interpretation as long as that interpretation is not unreasonable.

Those challenging the law, however, insist that Congress intended to limit the subsidies to state exchanges. “As an inducement to state officials, the Act authorizes tax credits and subsidies for certain households that purchase health insurance through an Exchange, but restricts those entitlements to Exchanges created by states,” wrote Michael Cannon and Jonathan Adler, two of the fiercest critics of the IRS interpretation, in an article in the Health Matrix: Journal of Law-Medicine.

In any case, a ruling in favor of the challengers would affect only the subsidies available in the states using the federal exchange. Those in the 13 states operating their own exchanges would be unaffected. The rest of the health law, including its expansion of Medicaid and requirements for coverage of those with pre-existing conditions, would remain in effect.

2. If the court rules against the Obama administration, millions of people could be forced to give up their insurance.

A study by the Urban Institute found that if subsidies in the federal health exchange are disallowed, 9.3 million people could lose $28.8 billion of federal help paying for their insurance in just the first year. Since many of those people would not be able to afford insurance without government help, the number of uninsured could rise by 8.2 million people.

A separate study from the Urban Institute looked at those in danger of losing their coverage and found that most are low and moderate-income white, working adults who live in the South.

3. A ruling against the Obama administration could have other effects, too.

Experts say disallowing the subsidies in the federal exchange states could destabilize the entire individual insurance market, not just the exchanges in those states. Anticipating that only those most likely to need medical services will hold onto their plans, insurers would likely increase premiums for everyone in the state who buys their own insurance, no matter where they buy it from.

“If subsidies [in the federal exchange] are eliminated, premiums would increase by about 47%,” said Christine Eibner of the RAND Corporation, who co-authored a study projecting a 70% drop in enrollment.

Eliminating tax subsidies for individuals would also impact the law’s requirement that most larger employers provide health insurance. That’s because the penalty for not providing coverage only kicks in if a worker goes to the state health exchange and receives a subsidy. If there are no subsidies, there are also no employer penalties.

4. Consumers could lose subsidies almost immediately.

Supreme Court decisions generally take effect 25 days after they are issued. That could mean that subsidies would stop flowing as soon as July or August, assuming a decision in late June. Insurers can’t drop people for non-payment of their premiums for 90 days, although they have to continue to pay claims only for the first 30.

Although the law’s requirement that individuals have health insurance would remain in effect, no one is required to purchase coverage if the lowest-priced plan in their area costs more than 8% of their income. So without the subsidies, and with projected premium increases, many if not most people would become exempt.

5. Congress could make the entire issue go away by passing a one-page bill. But it won’t.

All Congress would have to do to restore the subsidies is pass a bill striking the line about subsidies being available through exchanges “established by the state.” But given how many Republicans oppose the law, leaders have already said they will not act to fix it. Republicans are still working to come up with a contingency plan should the ruling go against the subsidies. Even that will be difficult given their continuing ideological divides over health care.

States could solve the problem by setting up their own exchanges, but that is a lengthy and complicated process and in most cases requires the consent of state legislatures. And the Obama administration has no power to step in and fix things either, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a letter to members of Congress.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

MONEY Taxes

Why Some Taxpayers Are In for a Big Shock This Year

Many middle-class families who got subsidized health coverage through Obamacare in 2014 are facing an unexpected tax bill now.

Roberta and Curtis Campbell typically look forward to tax time. Most years, they receive a refund–a little extra cash to pay off credit card bills.

But this year the California couple got a shock: According to their tax preparer, they owe the IRS more than $6,000.

That’s the money the Campbells received from the federal government last year to make their Obamacare health coverage more affordable. Roberta, unemployed when she signed up for the plan, got a job halfway through the year and Curtis found full-time work. The couple’s total yearly income became too high to qualify for federal subsidies. Now they have to pay all the money all back.

“Oh my goodness, this is just not right,” said Roberta Campbell, who lives in the Sacramento suburb of Roseville. “This is supposed to be a safety net health care and I am getting burned left and right by having used it.”

As tax day approaches, hundreds of thousands of families who enrolled in plans through the insurance marketplaces could be stuck with unexpected tax bills, according to researchers. Those payments could be as high as $11,000, although most would be several hundred dollars, one study found.

The result is frustration and confusion among some working and middle-class taxpayers, whom the Affordable Care Act was specifically intended to help. The repayment obligations could dissuade people from re-enrolling and provide more fuel to Republicans’ continuing push for a repeal of the law.

The problem is that many consumers didn’t realize that the subsidies were based on their total year-end income and couldn’t reliably project what would happen over the course of the year, said Alyene Senger, research associate at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

“How do you know if you are going to get that promotion?” she said. “How do you know what your Christmas bonus is going to be?”

In addition, Senger said the government didn’t go out of its way to publicize the tax consequences of receiving too much in federal subsidies. “It isn’t really something the administration focused on heavily,” she said. “It’s not exactly popular.”

The system was intended to ensure that people received the right amount in subsidies, no more or less than needed. But the means the government chose to reconcile the numbers was the tax system — notorious for its complexity well before the Affordable Care Act passed.

Enrollees who enrolled in Obamacare now are realizing that certain positive life changes–a pay raise, a marriage, a spouse’s new job–can turn out to be a liability at tax time. “We are definitely seeing some pain,” said Jackie Perlman, a principal tax research analyst at H&R Block.

H&R Block released a report Tuesday saying that 52% of customers who received health coverage through the insurance marketplaces last year underestimated their income and now owe the government. They estimate that the average subsidy repayment amount is $530.

At the same time, about a third of those enrolled in marketplace coverage overestimated their income and are receiving money back–about $365 on average, the report said.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government made subsidies available to people who earned up to 400% of the federal poverty level—about $47,000 for an individual and $63,000 for a couple. For families who ended up making less than that, the federal government limits any repayments that might be due: The poorest consumers will have to repay no more than $300 and most others no more than $2,500. But the Campbells’ income last year exceeded the limit to receive federal help, so they have pay back the whole amount.

Roberta Campbell said she was only trying to do the right thing. Campbell, now 59, lost her job as a program director for the Arthritis Foundation in late 2012. She and her husband, who was working part-time as a merchandiser, downsized and moved into a smaller house.

They were left uninsured but were mindful of the federal mandate to be covered as of January 2014. So they signed up for a plan through California’s insurance marketplace, Covered California. The plan cost about $1,400 a month, but they were able to qualify for a monthly subsidy of about $1,000.

“We are rule followers,” she said. “We decided to get insurance because we were supposed to get insurance.”

They barely used the coverage. Roberta and Curtis each went to the doctor once for a check-up. Then, about halfway through the year, Roberta got a job at UC Davis and became insured through the university. Curtis, who had been working part-time, got a full-time job for a magazine distribution company.

They notified Covered California, which Campbell said cancelled the insurance after 30 days. But with the new salaries, his pension from a previous career and a brief period of unemployment compensation, the couple’s year-end income totaled about $85,000, making them ineligible for any subsidies.

Their tax preparer told them they would have been better off not getting insurance at all and just paying the fine for being uninsured. In that case, the Campbells say their financial obligation would have been much smaller–about $850.

“The ironic thing is that we tried to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps,” Curtis Campbell said. “Now they are going to penalize us. It’s frustrating.”

It’s not surprising that the projections people made about their income in 2014 in many cases were incorrect, said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The first open enrollment period started in October 2013, meaning that some enrollees based their estimates on what they earned in 2012.

Kominski said that policy experts knew there would be significant “churn” of people whose incomes change throughout the year and who would gain or lose their eligibility for subsidized coverage. But he and others said there was less understanding among consumers about how that could affect their taxes.

With tax season still underway, it not entirely clear how many people will have to repay the government for excess subsidies. But along with the recent H & R block estimates based on the firm’s customers, a UC Berkeley Labor Center study published in Health Affairs in 2013 suggested the numbers would not be not small.

Nationwide, 6.7 million people enrolled in marketplace exchanges through Obamacare in the first year. About 85% of people got federal help paying their insurance premiums.

Using California as a model, labor center chair Ken Jacobs estimated that even if everyone reported income changes to the insurance marketplace during the year, nearly 23 percent of consumers who were eligible for subsidies would have to pay the government back at least some of the amount received. About 9 percent of those receiving subsidies would have to pay the full amount. If no one reported changes, 38 percent would owe money.

The median repayment–if people reported income changes along the way—would be about $243 but some couples could owe more than $11,000, according to the research. The median amount due if people didn’t report the changes during the year would be $750.

“The most important thing for people to do along the way is to report [income] changes so the subsidy amount is adjusted,” Jacobs said.

For those who must repay money, the IRS will allow payment in installments, even after the April 15 tax deadline. Interest will continue accruing, however, until the balance is paid.

Covered California spokesman Dana Howard said he understands paying back excess subsidies puts some in a difficult spot. But he said consumers who think their circumstances might change can decline the money or just take part of it.

Howard also said the subsidies were designed to give the working class and middle class folks a leg up in affording health coverage. So when people get good jobs, he said, they don’t necessarily need the federal help to get insurance.

“When you get that really good fortune, that has to be shared back,” Howard said. “That is just how the ACA law was written.”

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

MONEY Health Care

4 Health Moves That Can Make You Richer

piggy bank stepping on scale
Jesse Strigler Photography—Getty Images

Better physical health can be a boon to your finances. Follow these steps to stay in shape.

Welcome to Day 9 of MONEY’s 10-day Financial Fitness program. By now you’ve learned how to bulk up your savings, cut the fat from your budget, and boost your earnings. Today, taking care of your health.

Your physical health and your financial health go hand in hand, especially as rising deductibles and increased cost sharing leave you on the hook for more expenses when you get sick.

Plus, your pocketbook takes a hit when you’re overweight: The annual cost of carrying extra pounds—including medical expenses, sick leave, and even gas for the car—is $524 for women and $432 for men, according to a 2010 study by the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. And Fidelity estimates that a couple who retire in good health will spend 20% less on medical care than a couple in poor health will.

You know what helps: exercise, sleep, a healthy weight, and regular checkups. Here’s how to make it easier to do the right thing.

1. Don’t Pass Up Freebies

Under Obamacare, annual physicals and a long list of valuable preventive care, from cholesterol tests to colonoscopies, are fully covered by insurance, with no out-of-pocket costs.

2. Be Your Own Doctor

Not quite, but tech has made staying on top of your health easier—especially important with a chronic condition such as high blood pressure. The Health app that’s part of the new Apple operating system unveiled last fall and the Health Tracker app for Android devices allow you to upload, input, and share health and fitness data.

3. Let Your Scale Motivate You

University of Minnesota researchers found that dieters who weighed themselves daily lost an average of 12 pounds in two years; weekly scale watchers lost only six. The once-a-day group was also less likely to regain the weight. Need help? Our sister publication, CookingLightDiet.com, offers healthy eating customized meal plans.

4. Make Tracking a No-Brainer

People who count their steps are more motivated to work out. But the novelty of fitness trackers like the Fitbit can quickly wear off. More than half of owners stop using them, a recent University of Pennsylvania survey found; a third bail within a month.

If that’s you, add a tracking app such as RunKeeper or Moves to your phone instead. “Many people carry smart-phones everywhere,” says Mitesh S. Patel, an internist and researcher at the Wharton School. “If we really wanted to improve the health of the population, smartphone trackers are an easier place to start.”

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MONEY Ask the Expert

The Right Way to Kick Your Kid Off Your Health Insurance

140603_FF_QA_Obamacare_illo_1
Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q. I am covered by my employer’s health plan, but I’m not happy with it. My son is 21 and currently covered under my plan. While I realize that I am not eligible for Obamacare, I am curious if I can terminate my son’s policy so that he might be eligible.

A. Since the open enrollment period to sign up for coverage on the state marketplaces ended Feb. 15, in general people can’t enroll in a marketplace plan until next year’s open enrollment period rolls around.

If you drop your son from your employer plan, however, his loss of coverage could trigger a special enrollment period that allows him to sign up for a marketplace plan. Whether he’s entitled to a special enrollment period depends on whether his loss of coverage is considered voluntary, say officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

In general, voluntarily dropping employer-sponsored coverage doesn’t trigger a special enrollment period for individuals or their family members. But if you drop your son’s coverage on his behalf without his consent, his loss of coverage wouldn’t be considered voluntary and your son could qualify, according to CMS.

Whether he’ll be eligible for premium tax credits to make marketplace coverage more affordable is another matter, says Judith Solomon, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

If you claim him as your dependent, he generally won’t be eligible. If you don’t claim him as your dependent, he would have to qualify for subsidies based on his own income.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

TIME Health Care

Supreme Court Says Dentists Can’t Decide Who Gets to Whiten Your Teeth

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Getty Images

The Supreme Court has ruled that dentists can't hold a monopoly on teeth-whitening services

Dentists cannot have a monopoly on teeth whitening services, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court found that the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners was wrong when it sent “cease and desist” letters to companies that were offering teeth whitening at strip malls and kiosks. The board held that it was regulating the practice, but it was sued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for creating an advantage for its members and blocking competition.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of the FTC, agreeing that the board was acting on behalf of private members and not as a state regulatory agency since it was not being actively monitored by the state.

North Carolina law does not specify whether teeth whitening is a practice only allowed by dentists. The smaller businesses were offering the procedures for a lower costs than the dentists.

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