The new healthcare bill, called The Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act, has been over a year in the making. It will impact every United States citizen at some point in time. Here is an overview of the key changes:
1. Effective this fall, you cannot be dropped by your insurance carrier for “getting sick.” In addition, you can’t be denied insurance based on pre-existing medical conditions. A plan that allows people to purchase insurance through a state-run “high-risk pool”, which will limit your out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, will be in place until 2014 when the broad expansion takes place. Also, your children cannot be denied coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.
2. Your children are covered until the age of 26 if they are financially dependent on you and cannot obtain insurance through their employer.
3. There is a provision preventing lifetime dollar limits on a policy. This is generally useful for those who develop chronic diseases.
4. Starting in 2014, you will have to purchase health insurance or risk being fined. If your employer does not offer health insurance and your income doesn’t allow room to purchase a plan, the government will provide assistance. The fines for not having health insurance will be based on a sliding scale from 1%-2.5% of a person’s income, with a maximum cap.
5. Beginning in 2014 states will offer exchanges. Exchanges are basically insurance marketplaces that will provide you with more options for purchasing an insurance policy. They will be available to those who can’t afford or get insurance or if you make too much to qualify for Medicaid.
6. Seniors will be immediately eligible for a $250 rebate to fill in the “doughnut hole” in Medicare prescription drug coverage.
7. Flexible spending accounts will have lower contribution limits. The new maximum contribution to these pre-tax accounts for medical expenditures will be $2500. There will also be fewer expenses covered.
8. Beginning in 2018, if you earn more than $250,000 (combined as a family), you will have more money deducted from your paycheck for Medicare.
9. In 2011, Medicare will provide free annual wellness visits, and new plans will be required to cover preventative services with no co-pay.
These are just a small portion of the changes to take place with The Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act. For additional information on how the new healthcare plan will affect you and your family, please visit http://dpc.senate.gov/dpcdoc-sen_health_care_bill.cfm.