September 30, 2013
93 Days And Counting
Today there are only 93 days left until the full brunt of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) takes effect. Recently, I wrote about some of the questions people had about ACA, so I thought I would follow up with some more information about the changes in health care that we will see in January 2014.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the ACA will do many things. First of all, the Healthcare Insurance Marketplace will be available for all Americans in need of healthcare either because it is not provided by their employer, they are self-employed, or they just need private insurance. The Affordable Care Act provides other benefits including:
- Health insurance plans cannot refuse to cover you or charge you more just because you have a pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes or asthma.
- More people will qualify for Medicaid.
- Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to impose annual dollar limits on coverage for essential health benefits.
- Being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition, and insurance companies cannot charge women more than men for the same coverage.
- The small business tax credit expands.
In less than 100 days, these and more will go into effect providing more Americans with healthcare than ever before. I have traveled to many countries and seen and experienced many different healthcare programs. Those countries that I have visited with good healthcare programs have some of the happiest citizens. Really, see the blog I wrote about that. Countries with nationalized healthcare are happier. Most of the citizens of these countries consider their national healthcare a country treasure.
Now, the ACA is not exactly nationalized healthcare, but it is not just private health coverage either. It does mandate that Americans have healthcare. As a different US Department of Health and Human Services article explains, “Under the law, most individuals who can afford it will be required to obtain basic health insurance coverage or pay a fee to help offset the costs of caring for uninsured Americans. If affordable coverage is not available to an individual, he or she will be eligible for an exemption.” This fee will be used for healthcare. It is meant to work to counterbalance the high costs of the non-insured.
The ACA is not perfect. It will likely see some revision and strengthening in future years, but it does make having insurance easier. This year, I did not have to pay for my yearly pap smear because it was a preventative service, part of the ACA that has already gone into affect. Many twenty-somethings are now able to stay on their parent’s insurance plans for longer due to the ACA. And now, pre-existing conditions cannot affect whether one will get coverage or not. Nor can pre-existing conditions mean higher insurance premiums.
Like with any change, there will be some growing pains. We will learn what is good and works and what needs attention and revision. However, as one who went half a decade without any health insurance because I could not afford it, yet with conditions that demanded attention, I would have appreciated something like the ACA. Instead, I had years of no medical service, which eventually contributed to my health concerns today. I don’t know that ACA would have helped me prevent some of my stuff, but no medical attention certainly played its role.
I look forward to learning more about ACA and watching it unfold.
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