In a landmark ruling yesterday, The Supreme Court of the Unired States voted to uphold President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Since it’s inception, there has been heated rhetoric about this law, most of it misleading and all of it confusing to we, the people, who will be affected by it. Let us take a look at some of it’s provisions and their ultimate impact.
The Individual Mandate
Individuals who currently have no health insurance coverage overwhelmingly rely on emergency rooms for their healthcare. This is the most expensive form of treatment, with the costs of these services passed on to those of us who are insured in varoius forms, including increased medical costs and higher insurance premiums. In 2014, The Affordable Care Act will require everyone who can afford it, to purchase and maintain minimum essential health coverage or pay a penalty. The penalty for an individual will be $95.00, for a child, $47.50 and, for a family, up to $285.00. These rates will go up as the years go by. The non partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2016, the average annual insurance premium for an individual will be between $4,000 and $5,000; for a family, $12,000. For people who can’t afford it, tax credits will be provided to help offset the cost. For people in low income brackets, Medicaid will be expanded, by state, to facilitate coverage and to provide a much needed safety net to those with low incomes.
Caps on Insurance Coverage
Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny you coverage once a certain financial expenditure is reached. This applies to both annual and lifetine coverage caps.
Children with pre-existing conditions are already protected. Insurance companies cannot deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions and will no longer be able to deny coverage to adults in 2014.
Continuing Coverage for College Students
College students, up to the age of 26, may remain on their parent’s insurance plans, eliminating the need for the additional cost of new coverage while finishing their already expensive college careers.
Routine physicals and wellness screenings, such as mammograms, are available with no out of pocket expenses or co-pays.
Yes, there will be some cuts to Medicare. Cuts will come from both fraud and overpayments by advantage plans. The level of care for seniors will not be affected, and there will be more discounted prescriptions, as well as the ultimate closure of the “donut hole”; a gap in prescription drug coverage that can be financially devastating.
In 2014, by state, insurance marketplaces will be in place, lowering premium costs by providing a large increase in competition between insurance companies.
Medicaid will be expanded, by state, to cover individuals and families who are under the age of 65, are not Medicare eligible and whose incomes are less than 133 percent of the Federal poverty level, providing a vital safety net for low income individuals.
The affordable Care Act is a complex law, with differing opinions on both sides of the aisle, as well as far too many provisions to address in this writing. Because of The Affordable Care Act, by 2014, it is estimated that 95 percent of all Americans will have health insurance coverage. Republican House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, has scheduled a house vote to repeal The Affordable Care Act in July. Should it be repealed, more than 30 million Americans would be left without any form of health insurance, and be without a backup plan as well. We urge you to go to www.healthcare.gov/law/index.html, for detailed information about all aspects of The Affordable Care Act.