Health Care Reform Makes a Difference for All Americans
November 5, 2012
By Neal Tepel
The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which together comprise the new federal health care reform law, were signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010, and March 30, 2010, respectively. Federal health reform uses a building blocks approach that starts with an individual’s current health insurance. This legislation sets up a mechanism so all Americans can be provided comprehensive healthcare.
Under this legislation: Children up to Age 26 can stay on their parents’ insurance. Lifetime limits on coverage are banned. No discrimination against children or adults with pre-existing conditions will be tolerated. Annual limits on insurance coverage are regulated. No cost-sharing for preventive care is permitted. An appeals process is guaranteed. Choice of a primary care provider is guaranteed. Direct access for OB/GYN services assured. Discrimination based on salary is banned.
The burdens of financing the new health system falls mainly on high income Americans, in the form of higher Medicare taxes. Others that will also be contributing include: health insurers that had been offering high cost plans; medical device manufacturers; and employers who previously did not provide health coverage to their workers.
The purchase of health insurance for individuals has now been simplified and less costly through the establishment of the Health Insurance Exchange. Protections are implemented to guard against unreasonable rate increases. In addition, expanding Medicaid now allows people at the lowest income levels to qualify for coverage.
The uninsured are clearly the biggest beneficiaries of the legislation. Regulations will now ensure that coverage will be provided for 32 million people who have been shut out of the market because they were too poor or too sick to benefit from health insurance. Under this landmark legislation the health care safety net will finally include the lowest-income Americans.