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Stuff you probably never knew about The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare

By Dian Vujovich

In case you’ve forgotten, which is really easy to do since the kerfuffle about the Affordable Care Act became law in March 2010 hasn’t stopped; thousands if not millions of people have enjoyed the benefits of this health care program for the past two-plus years.


Like it or not, this Act is a law and since in effect has served– and cost– all of us money to some degree or another. Given that the bottom line of its total costs are about as easy to find as say the real amount of JPMorgan’s recent trading losses initially reported as $2 billion and now that figure has moved to $9 billion, I thought I’d  forget about money for a minute and remind everyone of the services this health care program already has in place.


But before doing that, there is one part of the Act that spells out future costs.  According to a CNN report, in 2014, the penalty for a family not purchasing health care insurance will be $285, or 1 percent of their family income, which ever is greater. In 2016 that fine increases to 2.5 percent of income per family.


Now, a drum roll please for the year 2010 because you probably won’t believe all the health care services available since the Affordable Care Act, aka, Obamacare, went into effect. My source? The website: gov/law/timeline.


On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act.  In January of that year up to 4 million small businesses were eligible for tax credits to help them provide insurance benefits to their workers. In April, states were able to receive federal matching funds for low-income people on Medicaid. In June, applications were made available for employers to participate in a program for early retirees that created a $5 billion program to offer financial help for employment-based plans to those who retire between the ages of 55 and 65,  their spouses and dependents.


In July, Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) began offering new coverage options to those uninsured for at least six months because of a pre-existing condition. (In 2014 PCIP expands to serve everyone.) And the website HealthCare.gov was created to provide consumers with a one-stop educational and informational health care source.


In September, coverage for young people up to age 26 allowing them to stay on their parent’s health pan went into effect. Free preventive care plans did too. Plus, it became illegal for insurance companies to rescind health care coverage and impose lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits like length of hospital stays. (In 2014, dollar limits on essential benefits will be banned for new plans in the individual market and all group plans.)


Also in September of  2010, new review processes were put in place to allow customers a way to appeal their insurance coverage and claims. New rules to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to children under the age of 19 due to a pre-existing condition also went into effect.


In 2010, $250 million in new grant monies was made available to states that have, or planned to implement measures requiring insurance companies to justify their premium increases. (Companies with excessive premium increases may not be able to participate in the new Affordable Insurance Exchanges in 2014.) And incentives were put in place to strengthen the availability of primary care in underserved areas; federal grants became available to states to help set up or expand independent offices to help consumers navigate the private health insurance system; and a $15 billion Prevention and Public Health Fund was established to help keep Americans healthy.


Only in effect in that year, 2010, roughly 4 million seniors got a one-time $250 rebate check to help pay their donut hole Medicare prescription drug expenses.


Whew! Who knew?


Look for more about what’s in the Affordable Care Act for the years 2011, 2012 and on out in a future blog.

To read more articles, please visit the column archive.

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