Obamacare: In the Public Good?

Improving access to health care?

Is there a need for the 2010 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (hereinafter “Affordable Care Act”)? Let’s look at the number of uninsured in America. This nation’s deep economic recession and resulting decline in employer sponsored coverage contributed to a rise in the uninsured in recent years. Research indicates that these factors left fifty (50) million Americans without coverage in 2009.

While public insurance programs prevented some individuals from losing health insurance coverage, these programs do not reach all of those who cannot afford insurance. With that understanding, the Affordable Care Act seeks to address the gaps in our private-public insurance system. This new law requires most Americans to have health insurance and many will gain coverage through expanded Medicaid eligibility and subsidized private coverage for individuals with incomes up to four hundred (400) percent of poverty starting in 2014.

In March of this year, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act turned two years old. On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed a sweeping set of health care reforms into law. It was a historic moment in our nation’s history. Barack Obama was the first American president that was able to deliver a comprehensive health reform. This was a goal which eluded his predecessors. The new law focuses on the expansion of coverage, controlling health care costs, and improving the health care delivery system. Implementing health insurance reform will take some time but there were reforms which took effect in 2010.

What if any difference has this highly debated law made in the lives of the American people? To answer that question, we will look at some of the provisions that took effect to protect consumers in 2010. The Affordable Care Act prohibits: pre-existing condition exclusions for children; rescissions of health insurance policies; and eliminates lifetime and unreasonable annual limits on benefits, with annual limits prohibited in 2014.

The law provides assistance for those who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition. It requires coverage of preventive services and immunizations. It also extends dependant coverage up to age 26. The law ensures consumers have access to an effective appeals process and provide consumer a place to turn for assistance navigating the appeals process and accessing their coverage.

By 2014, when the bulk of the reform’s provisions come into effect, states are required to have put regulated insurance exchanges in place so that consumers can buy plans that meet minimum standards for coverage. At this juncture all will be required to buy insurance. Those persons financial unable to purchase insurance will be eligible for subsidies.

Sources: http://www.healthcare.gov; http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform/healthcare-overview; http://www.democraticleader.house.gov/; http://www.dpcsenate.gov/healthreformbill/healthbill; The Kaiser Family Foundation, “Focus on Health Reform.”

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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