Bits and pieces 14: A Summary of the Affordable Care Act
The goals of healthcare reform were to see that every citizen had adequate healthcare, ensure that healthcare was affordable, and protect citizens from insurance company abuses. Although many of the criticisms of the law were baseless, the law’s effect on the deficit and its constitutionality were serious questions. An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted the Affordable Care Act would decrease the projected deficit by $138 billion over the first 10 years and by approximately $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. The Supreme Court , in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Below is a summary of the provisions the law that may affect you :
- students and unemployed young adults may stay on their parents insurance until age 26
- insurance companies may not limit the amount of care a person receives in their lifetime
- insurance companies may not cancel coverage because a person is sick
- lowers the cost of care for Medicare recipients and closes the “doughnut hole” in prescription drugs, saving seniors $3.1 billion in prescription costs since 2010
- insurance companies must cover preventive services like yearly checkups, mammograms, cancer screening, and inoculations
- increases the penalties for Medicare fraud
- insurance companies may not deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions
- insurance companies must provide justification for raising rates
- insurance companies must spend 80% of their premiums on health care or refund the difference. Americans are scheduled to receive $1.4 billion and Oklahomans $21 million in refunds this August.
- provides tax credits for small business owners so they can afford quality insurance for their employees
- provides for the creation of hundreds of community health centers and incentives for new doctors to staff them
Beginning in 2014:
- provides working Americans tax credits to help them afford quality insurance
- ends discrimination against adults with pre-existing conditions
- prevents insurance companies from charging women more than men or overcharging those in need of care
- provides funds to create state based insurance exchanges where people can compare prices of insurance
- provide states with funds to increase their Medicaid programs
There are also hidden benefits:
- It would improve the competitiveness of American companies. Most working Americans obtain health insurance through their employers; however, this putsU.S.businesses at a disadvantage with foreign competitors. Small companies have the added disadvantage that they cannot negotiate rates as low as larger companies.
- It would cut down on the number of the uninsured using emergency services. Emergency room care is expensive and unpaid bills must be passed on to paying customers.
- It would reduce bankruptcies. A Harvard study found that about 50% of all bankruptcies in theUnited Statesare caused by illness and medical bills. Health providers, banks, businesses, and credit card companies who lose money in bankruptcies pass the cost on to the rest of us.
- It would improve everyone’s health. You and your family come into contact with many people each year. People without health insurance are less likely to receive immunizations and are much more likely to have untreated communicable diseases.
Research Credit: Barbara Moore
(C) 2012 J.C. Moore