The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare, was signed into law on March 23, 2010. This landmark statute was designed to improve the health care system. It was meant to make sure that every individual has access to affordable health care and to reduce health care costs.
The Act creates a new insurance marketplace, known as the American Health Benefit Exchange. This marketplace is a state-based system where small businesses and individuals can get health coverage at competitive prices. There are also tax credits for qualified health plans, which are refundable. If you are in a low-income bracket, you may qualify for the premium assistance tax credit, which can be used towards paying your insurance premium. In addition, the Act makes Medicaid and CHIP available to a wider range of people.
Under the new law, insurers cannot deny or rescind coverage for pre-existing conditions. They are also required to offer coverage to unmarried adult children until they are 26 years of age. These changes aim to prevent the private health insurance industry from engaging in discriminatory practices.
Another important change under the Act is that it prohibits lifetime caps on coverage. While the law does not require that health plans cover specific illnesses, it does require that plans cover a variety of preventive services. This includes blood pressure screenings, cancer screenings, and diabetes screenings. Plans are also required to limit the amount of out-of-pocket expenses.
Insurance companies are also required to provide a reasonable appeals process. Additionally, the Act requires that health plans offer coverage for adults who are no longer students. For groups, the law requires that group health plans can no longer rescind coverage for enrollees unless the plan is a violation of federal law.
The Affordable Care Act also establishes a series of state rate reviews for insurance premium increases. Insurers must spend a minimum of 80 percent of their premiums on medical care. When the percentage of premiums spent on medical care goes over this threshold, insurers must give consumers a rebate.
The Act also establishes a Patient’s Bill of Rights. Among other things, this includes a ban on lifetime monetary caps on coverage and on exclusions of people with pre-existing conditions. Other changes include prohibitions on cost-sharing on recommended preventive care for women, men, and children, and on euthanasia and mercy killing.
A key premise of the Affordable Care Act is the elimination of wasteful spending. To this end, the Act creates tax credits for small businesses and individual health plans, which can be used to offset the cost of premiums. Also, it requires the Secretary to award grants to states to implement consumer assistance programs. Furthermore, it requires the Secretary to conduct a study on affordability of health coverage and to report this information to congressional committees.
Although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a huge step forward in providing affordable health care, it has its drawbacks. Many believe the law has increased health care costs, but others say it has made insurance coverage more affordable.