President Obama will be our Commander in Chief for four more years! This means that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is here to stay! What does this mean exactly? If you haven’t already, I urge you to visit www.healthcare.gov! Here, you can even read the whole law if you so desire.
The ultimate goal of ACA is to increase the number of people covered while decreasing the amount paid in deductibles, copays, and coinsurance goes down.
Here are some highlights of what the ACA has accomplished so far…
- Prohibiting Denying Coverage of Children Based on Pre-Existing Conditions. The health care law includes new rules to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to children under the age of 19 due to a pre-existing condition. Effective for health plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010 for new plans and existing group plans.
- Prohibiting Insurance Companies from Rescinding Coverage. In the past, insurance companies could search for an error, or other technical mistake, on a customer’s application and use this error to deny payment for services when he or she got sick. The health care law makes this illegal. After media reports cited incidents of breast cancer patients losing coverage, insurance companies agreed to end this practice immediately. Effective for health plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010.
- Eliminating Lifetime Limits on Insurance Coverage. Under the law, insurance companies will be prohibited from imposing lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits, like hospital stays. Effective for health plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010.
- Providing Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credits. Up to 4 million small businesses are eligible for tax credits to help them provide insurance benefits to their workers. The first phase of this provision provides a credit worth up to 35% of the employer’s contribution to the employees’ health insurance. Small non-profit organizations may receive up to a 25% credit. Effective now.
- Providing Free Preventive Care. All new plans must cover certain preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance. Effective for health plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010. Learn more about preventive care benefits. See the full list of covered preventive services.
- Extending Coverage for Young Adults. Under the law, young adults will be allowed to stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26 years old (in the case of existing group health plans, this right does not apply if the young adult is offered insurance at work). Check with your insurance company or employer to see if you qualify. Effective for health plan years beginning on or after September 23.
- Strengthening Community Health Centers. The law includes new funding to support the construction of and expand services at community health centers, allowing these centers to serve some 20 million new patients across the country. Effective 2010.
So, what can we expect from the ACA in the next couple years?
- Improving Preventive Health Coverage. To expand the number of Americans receiving preventive care, the law provides new funding to state Medicaid programs that choose to cover preventive services for patients at little or no cost. Effective January 1, 2013. Learn more about the law and preventive care.
- Providing Additional Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Under the law, states will receive two more years of funding to continue coverage for children not eligible for Medicaid. Effective October 1, 2013. Learn more about CHIP.
- Establishing Affordable Insurance Exchanges. Starting in 2014 if your employer doesn’t offer insurance, you will be able to buy it directly in an Affordable Insurance Exchange. An Exchange is a new transparent and competitive insurance marketplace where individuals and small businesses can buy affordable and qualified health benefit plans. Exchanges will offer you a choice of health plans that meet certain benefits and cost standards. Starting in 2014, Members of Congress will be getting their health care insurance through Exchanges, and you will be able buy your insurance through Exchanges too. Effective January 1, 2014. Learn more about Exchanges.