The affordable health care act is officially named The Affordable Care Act, and also, for some, not so favorably referred to as Obamacare. It created the Patient’s Bill of Rights to protect us from unfair practices by insurance companies.
This health care reform act became law on March 23, 2010, but has been getting extra attention due to election campaigns and the recent drama over the Federal budget and debt ceiling deadlines.
Some provisions of the law have already gone into effect, but some of the major changes and phased-in requirements will become fully effective in 2014.
Read about fees for the uninsured and much more.
The provisions that directly affect retirees include improvements to the Medicare system, such as remedies to reduce prescription costs when in the “donut hole” coverage gap.
Also, there are new free preventive services such as the new Annual Wellness Visit, flu shots, and diabetes screenings for seniors.
The new law also provides new technology, screening procedures and penalties to reduce Medicare fraud to make the system financially stronger.
For everyone, including retirees not yet eligible for Medicare, there are important new provisions and protections, such as an end to discrimination because of pre-existing conditions.
Insurance companies can no longer just drop you for frivolous reasons such as minor mistakes on an application form. By 2014, there will no longer be lifetime limits on health care expenses.
To make health care more affordable, there is now a requirement that insurance companies spend at least 80 percent of premiums on medical care related costs instead of things like overhead, advertising costs, and bonus pay for executives.
The Affordable Care Act also requires more transparency by making insurance companies justify any proposed rate increases of 10% or more.
Starting August 1, 2012, many prevention services for women are now covered with no costs to the patient.
Another program this health care reform act supports, and that has been needed for a long time is Accountable Care Organizations, ACOs. Because seniors may have multiple health conditions requiring multiple medications, there can be problems with doctors being unaware of potential drug interactions.
ACO’s provide a way of coordinating this information and working as a patient advocate to help solve problems where multiple care providers are involved.
There are many more benefits provided by the affordable health care act. More details and real people stories of benefits can be found at Healthcare.gov.