Simply stated, it is an act to provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending. But as all of us know, nothing is ever that simple. In this blog, we will briefly examine the Act itself, and in subsequent blogs, we’ll explore obstacles and opinions regarding the Affordable Health Care Act and how it plays an integral part in healthcare reform overall.
The Affordable Health Care Act, part of overall healthcare reform, attempts to restructure certain aspects of the private and public health insurance programs. A major goal of the Act is to crack down on some of the most egregious practices of the insurance industry while simultaneously putting some control of health coverage and care back into the hands of consumers.
Some of the central changes made by the legislation include:
health insurers can no longer refuse or drop coverage based on patients’ medical histories or because of a pre-existing condition
health insurers cannot charge different rates based on patients’ medical histories or gender
establishing minimum standards for qualified health benefit plans
young adults can remain covered under parents until age 26
most employers must provide coverage for their workers or pay a surtax on the workers wage up to 8%
an expansion of Medicaid to include more low-income Americans by increasing Medicaid eligibility limits to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level and by covering adults without dependents as long as either or any segment doesn’t fall under the narrow exceptions outlined by various clauses throughout the proposal
a subsidy to low- and middle-income Americans to help buy insurance
a central health insurance exchange where the public can compare policies and rates
requiring most Americans to carry or obtain qualifying health insurance coverage or possibly face a surtax for non-compliance
a 5.4% surtax on individuals whose adjusted gross income exceeds $500,000 ($1 million for married couples filing joint returns)
inclusion of language originally proposed in the Tax Equity for Domestic Partner and Health Plan Beneficiaries Act
inclusion of language originally proposed in the Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments of 2009
An awful lot of information, I know. In a nutshell, The Affordable Care Act arose for many reasons, not the least of which is the prevalence of health care fraud and abuse, but the intention seems to be to ‘bring peace of mind to millions who are one accident or illness away from medical and financial chaos.’ Further, according to the New Patient’s Bill of Rights on http://www.healthreform.gov/, the Act will reduce the ‘hidden tax’ on insured Americans, will improve American’s health, and will enhance workers’ productivity.
The Act will take several years to be rolled out, but, in the meantime, opinions for and against – not to mention lawsuits, abound. In the coming days, we’ll review the varying opinions about and obstacles facing this legislation.