9 Things You Should Know about “Obamacare”

Today, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the controversial and massive piece of legislation titled, “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” or colloquially, “ObamaCare” with a 5-4 vote of Supreme Court justices.

In the Nov/Dec 2011 issue of Gospel Today, the Health in Action column discussed “9 Things You Should Know about ‘Obamacare'”. Given today’s monumental decision, here is an excerpt on this timely topic:

One of the most controversial acts of President Barack Obama\’s administration was the introduction and passage of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare,” “healthcare reform” or “Government Takeover of Healthcare.” This massive piece of legislation was signed into law on March 23, 2010 and new aspects take effect every year. The 906-page act is so vast and comprehensive that there is confusion, even among healthcare professionals about what is changing and when. Here are nine things that you should know right now and take advantage of for your family.

  1. Preventive Care (Annual Physicals) is now covered by all insurance plans at no cost to you, not even a co-payment, co-insurance or deductible. You pay zero!
  2. Seniors on Medicare are eligible to obtain certain preventive services, like mammograms and colonoscopies, potentially with no out-of-pocket cost.
  3. Children (under age 19 years old), even children who have been previously ill (pre-existing conditions), cannot be denied insurance coverage.
  4. The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will provide a health coverage option for Adults if you have been uninsured for at least six months, have a pre-existing condition, and have been denied coverage (or offered insurance without coverage of the pre-existing condition) by a private insurance company. This law will apply to adults also but not until 2014—currently there are Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan Programs.
  5. Over 4 million seniors have received a $250 rebate check to help cover the “gap” (“donut hole”) in Medicare\’s prescription drug coverage and now will receive a 50% discount on covered brand name prescription medications and lower co-pays for generic drugs.
  6. Most young adults can stay on their parent\’s insurance plan until they turn 26 years old.
  7. Small businesses are encouraged to provide health insurance for their employees. Employers with less than 25 workers and an average salary of $50,000 receive up to 35% in tax credits.
  8. Lifetime limits on insurance coverage are eliminated and insurance companies are banned from dropping people from coverage just because they get sick.
  9. Starting in 2014, most people will be required to have health insurance or pay a penalty if they don’t. Coverage may include employer provided insurance, Medicaid or self purchase of a plan.
    a. Several groups are exempt from the requirement to obtain coverage or pay the penalty, including (not a total listing):
    i.     People who would have to pay more than 8% of their income for health insurance.
    ii.     People with incomes below the threshold required for filing taxes.
    iii.     Those who qualify for religious exemptions
    iv.     Undocumented immigrants
    v.     People who are incarcerated

Families should stay current with the updated information. Visit www.Whitehouse.gov/healthreform for more information.