The Affordable Care Act Summarized
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a healthcare reform bill that was signed into effect on March 23, 2010. The aim of the Affordable Care Act is to provide affordable health insurance for more Americans, which the ACA does through a series of regulations for the insurance industry, and expansion of federal healthcare programs and subsidies. This healthcare reform bill is a 955-page document that includes a host of changes for the industry, but the most important points for the average American are reasonably simple to grasp.
The Affordable Care Act Introduces Some Basic Requirements
The Affordable Care Act introduces some new regulations for insurers.
The ACA: Requires insurance companies to cover all applicants – insurers can’t deny coverage based on a pre-existing condition
- Requires insurers to offer the same rates for individuals in a specific age range and region, regardless of pre-existing conditions or sex
This healthcare reform bill also sets up a Healthcare Marketplace where families, small businesses and individuals can shop for health insurance. Insurers who offer policies through these state-run marketplaces must comply with ACA requirements.
For the American people, this healthcare reform bill also introduces an “individual mandate” – which requires that all individuals who don’t have health insurance must secure an approved policy or pay a tax penalty.
The ACA Offers Some Great Benefits
In addition to the requirements set forth in this bill, the ACA also offers some great benefits, including:
- Establishes minimum standards for health insurance policies
- Offers subsidies for very small businesses who purchase insurance through an exchange
- Eliminates co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles for certain healthcare insurance benefits related to preventative care
- Expands Medicaid eligibility to include more low-income individuals, and offers federal subsidies to help low income families get affordable health insurance.
The bulk of the changes instituted by the ACA go into effect in 2014, although some aspects of the ACA are being gradually introduced or phased in up through 2020.
More specific information is available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ website.
Healthcare Reform and You
The Affordable Care Act is the most substantial piece of health care reform since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The ACA is aimed at making health care more affordable for Americans, and reducing the overall cost of healthcare. This controversial piece of healthcare reform makes sweeping changes to healthcare insurance, and if you’re like most people, you’re wondering how these changes will impact you.
Axess Advisors has partnered with E. D. Bellis as a Licensed Healthcare Reform Consultant.
Benefits of the Affordable Care Act Healthcare Reform
Practically speaking, this act provides some great benefits to Americans who can’t afford coverage, or have trouble getting healthcare insurance. Some of the benefits of this healthcare reform bill include:
- Insurers can’t deny you coverage, regardless of pre-existing conditions
- Insurers must offer the same healthcare rates to all individuals of the same age and geographic location, without charging more based on gender or most pre-existing conditions
- Low-income individuals will receive subsidies to help pay for health insurance
- Co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance are eliminated for some preventative care services
Potential Consequences of These Changes to Healthcare
While the changes enacted by the ACA are largely positive, there are a few healthcare changes that may have negative consequences for some individuals:
- Individuals who aren’t covered by a healthcare plan are required to get health care insurance or pay a penalty, with a few exceptions
- The ACA expands Medicaid coverage, and states can effectively opt out of this expansion, which means residents of some states may be caught in a gap in coverage
The States are the Gateway to Access This Healthcare Reform
The Affordable Care Act empowers each state to set up a healthcare exchange where individuals can shop for health insurance, compare rates, and enroll in a new healthcare insurance plan. Check with your state to find out whether you qualify for expanded Medicaid, or to shop for a health insurance plan under the new laws.