Health care reform, and what it means for you
on October 4, 2010
The new health care reform law runs more than 1,000 pages. We didn’t think you wanted to read all that, and it’s full of legalese and jargon that would be confusing for anyone. So we’ve put together the interactive tool above to help you navigate to the changes that affect you. As you answer the questions, you’ll find links to websites that describe your new rights, your new benefits and how to get them.
If you want to go straight to the government website for the Affordable Care Act, here it is: HealthCare.gov. On this website, you can find a time-line that charts the roll-out date for each of the benefits provided by the law. Here are the benefits that have just taken effect:
1. At the center of the changes is a patient’s bill of rights. It applies to all health insurance policies.
- You have the right to appeal if your insurance company denies coverage.
- Your policy can no longer have a lifetime dollar limit for coverage. By 2014, annual limits on coverage will be eliminated.
- Insurance companies can’t cancel your policy retroactively without proof of fraud.
- Adults under 26 can be covered under a parent’s plan, provided the plan allows dependents.
2. The new rules make coverage available to people who have been denied because they have pre-existing medical conditions.
- Children under the age of 19 can no longer be denied coverage because they have a pre-existing medical condition.
- Adults can apply for California’s Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan. It provides health coverage until 2014, when insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny policies based on pre-existing conditions.
3. Everyone whose health policy was created after March 22, 2010, will have more access to routine preventive care. Most of the rights in this list take effect when you renew your policy (at the end of your “policy year”), or when you buy a new policy.
- Now you can choose any available primary care doctor in your network. According to HealthCare.gov, people who have a regular primary care provider are twice as likely to get routine preventive care, which reduces the cost of health care.
- Most plans require that recommended preventive exams like cancer screenings, pregnancy counseling, vaccines, flu shots and blood pressure tests be provided with no out-of-pocket costs.
- Women no longer need referrals for obstetrical and gynecological (OB-GYN) services.
- Consumers can use the closest emergency room without paying a penalty if it’s out-of-network.
4. Business owners get help to make insuring their employees more affordable.
- If you run a small business or non-profit, you can apply for a tax credit to help defray the costs of insuring your employees.
- The bill also provides $5 billion to help California businesses insure retirees who do not qualify for Medicare.
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