How health reform impacts you By Doug Hill
This month is a milestone-it marks the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) being signed into law by President Obama. Whether you supported or opposed health reform when it passed, you’re likely already benefiting or will soon benefit from it. Here’s how:
If you have private insurance, ACA lets you keep it while enhancing your coverage. The law bans discrimination against the 94,700 Wisconsin kids with pre-existing conditions, and adults will be protected in 2014. Insurers are banned from having lifetime limits and dropping you because of an honest mistake on your application. Yearly limits are being phased out. Insurers will have to spend more of your premium dollars on your medical care rather than marketing and lobbying. Parents can now keep young adult children on their health plans until age 26, and if you’re a woman, ACA will bar insurers from charging you higher premiums than men by 2014.
Insurance must now also offer many preventive care services (like screenings and checkups) free. Seventy-five percent of health costs come from preventable chronic diseases like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, so if we can get a handle on these, it’ll help with costs and save lives.
If you’re a small business owner or individual who is uninsured, you’ll be able buy private insurance through a competitive marketplace called an “exchange” by 2014. By forcing insurance companies to compete in an apples-to-apples way, exchanges will drive down costs, guarantee choice, and put us in control. Tax credits are already helping small businesses pay for health care coverage, and moderate-income individuals will be eligible for credits in 2014.
Finally, if you’re a senior you stay on Medicare, but it’s improved in three ways by reform. All of Wisconsin’s 918,300 Medicare enrollees now get access to free preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies. In addition, those on Part D get prescription drug discounts when they hit the “donut hole” and Medicare’s solvency is extended due to a focus on preventive care and fighting waste.
You can visit healthcare.gov to find out more.
Doug Hill, Wausau
Director, Know Your Care Wisconsin