Now that health care reform has been deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court, will America finally learn to love it?
While that jury may remain out for years, I'm willing to bet that the more we start to appreciate the many benefits of the health care overhaul, the more comfortable we'll all become with it.
During the legal battle over health care reform, the Affordable Care Act quietly went about guaranteeing and expanding health care coverage for those most vulnerable to the inequities of our old health care system. Just a few examples:
- Children younger than age 19 can no longer be denied coverage due to pre-existing health conditions. This so-called guaranteed issue expands to all adults in 2014.
- Your insurance company can no longer drop you if you get sick.
- If your insurer spends too much of your premium on its own administrative costs and executive bonuses, it now must rebate the difference to you.
- Many preventive services, including annual wellness visits and screenings for colon, prostate and breast cancer, are now available without copay or co-insurance for Medicare beneficiaries. All health plans written after Sept. 23, 2010, must also include these preventive services without copay, co-insurance or deductible.
- Seniors who fall into the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole" now pay only half of their out-of-pocket prescription drug cost. By 2020, the ACA closes the doughnut hole completely.
- Insurers are required to allow young adults to remain on their parents' health insurance up to age 26.
For an estimated 30 million uninsured Americans, the best is yet to come. Starting in 2014, new state health exchanges will provide apples-to-apples health insurance shopping for individuals and small businesses. If your family qualifies, you will be eligible for government subsidies to help you afford coverage.
The many steps toward quality improvements contained within the law, including creating a financial incentive for hospitals, physicians and health care providers to form voluntary Accountable Care Organizations, will continue to steer American health care away from its current expensive fee-for-service approach toward one that encourages -- and rewards – better health care outcomes.
Now that the legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act have been addressed, maybe we will start to focus on what health care reform can do for us instead of to us.
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