Regardless of how you feel about the recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the United States, there are some important changes in this health care bill that directly impacts you, especially if you are of certain demographic.  Here’s a brief run-down and summary on the changes:

Changes That Will Happen Right Away

  • Help for the uninsured with pre-existing condition.  Amongst the many provision in the bill, $5 billion will be set aside to provide temporary coverage to uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions.  The funding will help those qualified until the new health care exchanges are put into final effect in 2014.
  • Coverage for young adults and older children.  Health care insurers will be required by law to provide coverage options for non-dependent children up to the age of 26.  This will especially be beneficial to recent college graduates who may be taking on a job without proper health care coverage, and many other young adults who are between jobs and students without coverage provided from their university or college.
  • Drug discount and assistance for seniors.  For those people that aren’t covered by Medicare Part D Drug Benefit due to gap in coverages, they will receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions.  The coverage gap is expected to be closed in 2011 as drug manufacturers will discount brand-name drugs by 50 percent, and subsequently another discounted by another 75% in 2020.
  • Pre-existing condition no longer subject to being denied coverage.  Effective six months after passage, insurers are prevented from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions and from charging increased rates on policies for children with preexisting conditions.
  • No more annual or lifetime caps.  If you buy a health insurance policy, the provider will no longer be allowed to place a cap on how much it will cover.  This change will be especially important for those diagnosed with terminal and serious illnesses that may face heavy medical bills.

Changes You Should See By 2014

  • Expansion to Medicaid.  Not to be confused with medicare, medicaid is health care assistance for individuals and families with low incomes and resources — by 2014, Medicaid will be expanded to include childless adults living near poverty.  A new program will also allow states to offer home and community based care for the disabled that might otherwise require institutional care.
  • Health insurance exchanges.  Exchanges will be created to make it easier for small businesses, the self-employed and the unemployed to pool resources and buy less expensive coverage.
  • Tax break for families.  Tax credits will be offered to families to offset the costs of health care premiums.  Amount of tax credits will be based on annual household income. A tax credit also becomes available for some small businesses to help provide coverage for workers.
  • Mandated health care coverage.  If approved by Senate,  individuals would be required to buy coverage in 2014 or face a fine of $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater.  The fine increases in 2015 to $325 or 2 percent of income, and increases again in 2016 to $695 or 2.5 percent of income.  There is an exemption clause for poorer Americans, and subsidies will be provided to assist family of four that makes up to $88,000 annually.
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