Affordable Care Act Reality Check
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) I'm self-employed, middle-aged, healthy and chronically uninsured and a target enrollee for a new healthcare plan through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, come October 1, 2013 (that's less than two weeks away). But what even is Obamacare, what will these health plans cost and is it for me?
These are burning questions all Americans have, according to a new Bankrate.com monthly report, Health Insurance Pulse. The most recent report found that 28% of Americans wonder how the ACA will affect their current healthcare plan followed closely by 24% who want to know how it will affect their household budget (that's me). Still some 20% wonder if the Affordable Care Act is really going to happen and 15% just want to know what Obamacare is.
I called up Dr. Sherry Glied, Ph.D., who chairs the Department of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health to ask her if there is enough being done to educate the American public about the healthcare changes coming next year.
Glied noted that there is plenty of time for Americans to learn about the ACA and how it will affect them. In fact, the ACA is really going to happen, and though open enrollment begins on October 1, 2013 for health plans that start on January 1, 2014, you really have until March 31, 2014 to sign up when open enrollment ends.
We Americans (doctors included) aren't quite sure about how things might change as a result of the Affordable Care Act either or whether they will change at all, and many don't know what, when or if they are supposed to do something about it.
So, I decided to find out. In this ACA Reality Check series, I will answer these questions and you can follow me on my quest to find out about healthcare coverage through the ACA.
First of all, what the heck is Obamacare?
The ACA is a set of new health care laws that offer new rights and protections that is supposed to make health insurance coverage fairer and more understandable. According to the official government website for the ACA, the law:
- Creates the Health Insurance Marketplace (also called the "exchange", a new way for individuals, families, and small businesses to find, compare and buy health coverage
- Requires insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing health conditions
- Helps you understand the coverage you're getting
- Holds insurance companies accountable for rate increases
- Makes it illegal for health insurance companies to cancel your health insurance arbitrarily just because you get sick
- Protects your choice of doctors
- Covers young adults under 26 on their parents plan
- Provides free preventive care included in your premiums
- Ends lifetime and yearly dollar limits on coverage of essential health benefits
- Guarantees your right to appeal
As an uninsured American, I am hoping the Affordable Care Act would create something better than what I have already experienced and am looking forward to checking it out.