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8 Ways Obamacare Is Already Helping Health Care

Since it was signed into law on March 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” has helped to improve the health care of millions of Americans. To his detriment, in the months leading up to the Presidential election the GOP presidential candidate was relentless with his descriptions of the new law as “government health care” that would cause “up to 20 million people to lose their insurance.” One reason the Republicans may have to rethink this sort of rhetoric is the simple fact that the Affordable Health Care Act is actually benefiting so many of their constituents. Here are eight ways Obama care is already helping the health care of our nation.

  1. Closing the “donut hole”:

    The prescription drug coverage plan offered by Medicare (Part D) requires its members to pay 25% of the cost of drugs after paying a relatively low deductible. However, after paying out a certain amount (in 2012, that amount is $2,930), Part D members are required to pay the full cost of prescription drugs until they reach another much higher spending limit. This coverage gap is commonly referred to as “the donut hole,” and it creates a serious financial burden on seniors dependent on prescription medication. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare recipients who reach “the donut hole” now receive a 50% discount on brand-name drugs and a 14% discount on generic drugs. These discounts will continue to increase over time until 2020 when “the donut hole” will be completely closed.

  2. Free coverage for wellness and preventive care:

    Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, many preventive health care services are covered for Medicare recipients with no copay or deductible. In 2011, more than 32.5 million Medicare members used these free preventive services. People on Medicare are also now entitled to a free annual wellness visit to their primary care physician.

  3. Children cannot be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition:

    Children are also already benefiting from the Affordable Care Act. As of 2010 (when the act was signed into law), children 19 or younger cannot be denied health insurance due to a pre-existing condition. The law also prevents insurance companies from removing a young adult up to age 26 from his or her family’s health insurance plan. College students who can’t afford health coverage can remain on or be added to their parents’ plan.

  4. Tax credits for small businesses:

    The Affordable Care Act provides a variety of tax credits to small businesses that elect to offer health insurance to their workers. The new law does not mandate employee health insurance, but businesses will be penalized if they do not provide coverage to their employees. In 2014, state-based Small Business Health Options Program Exchanges will be available to small businesses, and again, tax credits will be available to those who choose to provide insurance for their employees through these exchanges. Much more information for business owners is available on the IRS website.

  5. Eliminated lifetime insurance maximum payouts:

    Before the Affordable Care Act, a person suffering from a serious, long-term illness would lose their insurance coverage after they’d hit their insurance plan’s limit (or “lifetime limit”) on the dollar amount covered by the plan. But thanks to the new law, insurance companies can no longer place a lifetime limit on a person’s health coverage and annual caps on coverage will be eliminated by 2014.

  6. Insurance for those with pre-existing conditions:

    In our country, until recently, if you had a pre-existing condition including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, asthma, or even a previous accidental injury, when it came to getting health coverage, you were basically screwed. Health insurance companies are well-known for denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. The Affordable Care Act now provides temporary insurance, also known as the Pre-Existing Insurance Plan, to people who have been denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. In 2014, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny anyone coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

  7. End of rescissions:

    Wouldn’t you agree that getting dropped by your insurance plan when you get sick sort of defeats the whole purpose of health coverage? Insurance companies used to use the pretense of a rescission, that is, a claim that a member isn’t honoring his or her end of a contract, in order to stop coverage for someone who was getting too sick too often. As of 2010, the new law states that insurance companies will no longer be able to rescind a member’s coverage if he or she gets sick.

  8. Addresses quality of care in nursing homes:

    Quality of care in nursing homes continues to be of great concern for both seniors and their loved ones. Stories of physical abuse and neglect in homes are unfortunately not uncommon, and more advocacy for nursing home residents is needed. The Affordable Care Act requires that nursing homes provide consumers with much more information about their facilities, including identities of owners and operators, data about staffing, and staff hours of care provided. Elder abuse training is required for nursing home workers who care for patients with dementia. And in the case of neglect and abuse, it is now easier to file a complaint about care in a nursing home.

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