Thursday, 23 January 2014

What is Obama Care?

Let’s face it; the affordable care act is not something any of us want to read; heck, most Senators and Congress people likely still haven’t read it. Even Speaker Pelosi admitted they had to pass it first so they could see what was in it. It was passed by congress, signed by the president, and the Supreme Court has said it is constitutional. It is the Law.  So, as simply as possible, let us break it down into easy to digest pieces and see what it really is.

 Basically, the Affordable Care Act (yes it is the same thing as Obama care) is designed to give all Americans access to health insurance. If you already have health insurance, it gives you some new benefits. Some changes have already taken place. Existing plans now must cover preventative care; things like immunizations, colonoscopies, mammograms, and other things to keep you healthy. Children can now (optional, not mandatory) stay on their parents plans until age 26.

In January more changes will go into effect. If you have a pre-existing condition you will no longer be denied coverage or pay more for your plan than anyone else. Asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure; these are some pre existing conditions people used to be denied for. Not any longer. Also beginning in January, insurers can no longer put lifetime caps on the amount of benefits they will pay out. In January, most Americans will be required to have health insurance and possibly (probably) pay a penalty if they don’t.

Citizens will be able to buy insurance through the new state run marketplaces or the federal marketplace if your state does not have one. You can compare plans and prices. Not all insurance companies are in all states and prices vary from state to state, even county to county. Pricing has always been like this – it is nothing new. In America we call this the free market. You will be able to shop for insurance online or in person at the various walk-in centers.

In the marketplace you will be able to determine if you will qualify for financial aid. Many individuals and families will qualify for subsidies or tax credits, depending on their income level. Counsellors called ‘navigators’ will guide and assist people with the various plans, options, pricing, and signing up. Navigators are supposed to make the process simple and be helpful and informative.
In a nut shell, the law is changing some of the practices of insurance companies, making insurance a lot more comprehensive for people, and requiring all Americans to have insurance but helping with the cost if they need it. This is not European style ‘socialized medicine’, or ‘government run healthcare’; this is insurance from private corporations being regulated by the federal government.
Some people with existing policies will see their premiums go up and some will actually see a decrease. Each, depending on income levels, may still qualify for tax credits or subsidies.

Yes, it will be difficult to get online when it opens on Oct 1. This is to be expected. The enrolment period ends in March, 6 months away. Yes, as with any new program of this size, there will be software issues and things won’t go smoothly.  There will be problems starting out.   This also is to be expected.   Hang in there America, stay healthy. And above all else, don’t believe the hype. Get the facts.
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