The AP’s Look at Health Reform

Today, the Associated Press takes a look at the first stages of the Affordable Care Act and finds that millions will benefit from the new protections in the new law. The story notes:

“The first stage of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is expected to provide coverage to about 1 million uninsured Americans by next year, according to government estimates… Many others - more than 100 million people - are getting new benefits that improve their existing coverage.”

And, here are a few of the provisions identified by the Associated Press that they’ll benefit from: 

"Allowing young adults to stay on their parents' coverage until they turn 26."

Starting as early as September 2010, the law allows young adults under age 26 to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan, unless they have access to insurance through their own job. The Administration urged insurance companies and employers to provide this coverage before they were required to by law and in some cases, coverage for young adults through their parents plan may be available before September 2010.

"A health plan for uninsured people with pre-existing health conditions."

For too long, Americans with pre-existing conditions have been locked out of the health insurance marketplace. The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will provide a new health coverage option for Americans who have been uninsured for at least six months and have been unable to get health coverage because of a health condition. Participants in the new plan will be offered insurance with the same benefits and premiums as healthy people in their States.

"Ending lifetime limits on coverage, and restricting annual limits."

Over 100 million Americans have insurance that includes lifetime limits on coverage set by their insurers and plans. The new law prohibits the use of lifetime limits in all health plans and insurance policies issued or renewed on or after September 23, 2010. Some insurance plans also include annual dollar limits on what an insurance company will pay for health care. The new law phases out the use of annual dollar limits over the next three years until 2014 when the Affordable Care Act bans them for most plans.

"Requiring insurers to cover children with medical problems."

Too many parents have been unable to obtain coverage for their child because the child was born with or developed a pre-existing condition. Starting as early as 2010, denying or excluding coverage for children with a pre-existing condition or disability will be illegal.

In addition to implementing these provisions, the Obama Administration has created a new website, HealthCare.gov that helps consumers take control of their health care and make the choices that are right for them by putting the power of information at their fingertips.

Using HealthCare.gov, anyone can find a consolidated, personalized list of possible public and private coverage options, including viewing details about plan benefits, provider networks, drug coverage, and state and Federal services.  The site contains information on every state Medicaid program, every Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), products available from over 1,000 private insurance carries, and details about the new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, which was designed to provide relief to people who are locked out of the insurance industry because of a pre-existing condition.

Other features on the site include:

  • Information on to help understand how the Affordable Care Act is relevant to you and an interactive timeline to see when new benefits will be available;
  • Important information and resources for seniors, families, young adults, individuals and employers;
  • Prevention information and resources for comparing care quality.

The site is a great way to learn more about the Affordable Care Act and you can also get your questions answered straight from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tomorrow at 12:00 PM EDT when she participates in an online discussion with WebMD. Visit http://www.youtube.com/whitehouse to submit your question today, and watch the chat on WhiteHouse.gov/live tomorrow.

Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President for Special Projects

Related Topics: Health Care
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