Now that the year long, and oftentimes ugly journey towards health care reform is coming to an end, many are curious as well as concerned about what this health care overhaul means for them. What we have heard is that this new landmark legislation will extend health care coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured, and stop insurance companies from discriminating from patients with pre-existing conditions.
But what else will this milestone legislation cover? With so many half truths being spoken it is not surprising that the misinformation about health care circulating has confused most Americans. Now the question being asked by many is what does this change actually mean for them personally and how will it change their lives?
While many of the provisions in this bill do not officially start until 2014, there are a few key provisions that will be effective immediately. One of these provisions is that starting this year, children and young adults will able to stay on their parents’ health plan until they are 26 years old. Another immediate provision, as we mentioned earlier, is that insurance companies can no longer discriminate towards people who may have pre-existing conditions, and these people, for the first time, will also be eligible for high risk insurance programs.
Other reforms starting this year include a small business tax credit of up to 35% of the cost of any premiums. Also, insurance companies will be banned from lifetime caps on coverage and are no longer able to cancel a policy.
And yet another new provision that will take effect in the upcoming year is the provision of prohibiting insurance companies to enable pre-existing condition policies when it comes to the coverage of children.
While these reforms will be taking place immediately, the major bulk of the bill will take into effect as of 2014. This is when new insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, will be set up in states all over the country to offer individuals competitive health policies for businesses or individuals that don’t have coverage. Lifetime and annual limits on coverage will also be eliminated at this time. Other stipulations include, starting 2014, that any persons who do not obtain coverage will have to pay a penalty of either $95 or 1% of their income, whichever one is the highest.
While many of these stipulations are real positive steps toward true health care reform, one of the main questions being asked is how these new laws will affect your current health care plan. While there is still no consensus on this matter, many in the pharmaceutical industry like manufactures, pharmaceutical consultants, even doctors do not feel this will affect your plans in any way. Many news reports about this health care bill, they feel, have been distorted in the way the spirit of the bill was intended.
Many believe that, not only will this new health care reform not change your existing insurance, it will be a positive step in the right direction towards true health care reform.