The second in a series of posts about the Affordable Care Act, sharing info everyone needs to know.
Healthcare is complex. Laws can be confusing. Put the two together, mix in some good old-fashioned misinformation being spread by Obamacare’s opponents and … voila! Complications ensue.
But, really, the benefits of Obamacare are pretty straightforward. And they’re pretty cool.
Maybe you’re aware of them, maybe you’re not. But they bear repeating — and sharing.
What’s in Obamacare for me? How exactly do I benefit from healthcare reform?
There’s a reason the full name of the law is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. There’s a ton of provisions built in to protect patients from unscrupulous practices, plus options to shop around for more affordable care (which I wrote a bit about yesterday).
Here are just a few of the ways Obamacare protects patients, either now or starting on January 1, 2014:
- No insurer can turn you away for having a pre-existing condition like diabetes, asthma or arthritis.
- Insurance companies can’t cut you off if you get sick, and they can’t put a lifetime cap on your coverage — which means they have to keep paying your benefits no matter how much your treatment costs.
- Insurance companies must use 80-85 percent of your premium payment to pay for actual treatment and wellness education, instead of CEO bonuses and other expenditures. If they don’t, you’ll get a reimbursement check at the end of the year.
- Young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance plan until they’re 26 years old.
- Insurers must cover key recommended preventive services, such as cancer, diabetes and blood pressure screenings, annual check-ups and flu shots without additional cost sharing like co-pays or deductibles.
- Seniors who reach the gap in Medicare’s prescription drug coverage, better known as the “donut hole,” now receive 50 percent discounts on covered brand name drugs. The savings will keep getting better until the donut hole closes in 2020.
- Women can no longer be charged 50 percent more than men for insurance coverage, which was often the case in many states.
- Insurance companies can’t raise your rates just to make a profit, and increases must be approved by the federal government. Say goodbye to hefty annual rate hikes!
- If you get coverage from your employer, you don’t have to change a thing. But if you don’t like your coverage, you can shop the marketplace at HealthCare.gov.
A couple of things to keep in mind:
- Insurance plans purchased before 2010 may not be subject to some provisions of Obamacare. If you like your coverage, check to see if you get the full benefit of the new law. If not, you can always change plans.
- Insurers can grandfather in customers by raising their rates now and keeping them that way after Jan. 1, 2014. That’s why many consumers are seeing big premium increases right now. But you have the option of changing plans.
It’s easy to see how the Affordable Care Act will help consumers save money and stay healthier. After all, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
Want to look at the benefits of Obamacare another way? Check out this cool video created by WebMD: