Health Care Reform Update: What’s Been Enacted So Far?

H.R.3590 – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare or Health Care Reform) passed into law on March 23, 2010. Love it or hate it (55 -60% of Americans favor its repeal, depending on who’s poll you read), it has already begun to impact your life. Some 25 of its many, many provisions are or will be in effect by year’s end. The most notable of them include:

  • Effective September 23, 2010, health plans can no longer place lifetime limits on the dollar value of coverage, rescind coverage for any reason other than fraud or deny coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions. (As a result of this last prohibition, many health care plans have simply stopped offering policies for children.)
  • The temporary pre-existing condition plan, which is operated by your state or the feds, lets you enroll in a program to provide coverage if you’ve been uninsured for at least 6 months coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Federal enrollment began on July 1, 2010. 
  • Extended coverage for adult children, begun on September 23, 2010, lets parents keep their kids on their individual and group policies up to age 26. 
  • Preventive benefits coverage, also launched on September 23, requires new health plans to cover free of charge services like certain screening procedures for women and preventive care like immunizations for kids. 
  • A 10% tax levied on tanning salon services as of July 1 (presumably to help pay for the above services). 
  • $5 billion in tax-payer funds were appropriated to support public health and prevention programs now through 2014. Complementary to this, apparently, is the creation of the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council, presumably to coordinate and administer the aforementioned programs.  In addition, as of September 30, we also have the National Health Care Workforce Commission established to collect workforce data, analyze it and make policy recommendations. 
  • Small businesses (25 employees or fewer with average annual pay of less than $50,000) were thrown a very small bone in the form of a tax credit toward employee health insurance costs,  effective January 1, 2010. 
  • And, as of July 1, 2010, we have a consumer website courtesy of Health and Human Services to keep us abreast of our health care options.

The other 13 provisions in 2010 cover a range of topics including Medicare and Medicaid benefits, drug discount programs, reinsurance programs for retirees and insurance appeal processes. Stay tuned. Another 21 provisions will phase in starting January 1, 2011.


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