What’s in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the new health care law)?
Key fact: If someone can’t afford insurance, there will be government subsidies.
The recent healthcare reforms are extremely controversial, can be difficult to understand, and are often discussed without a clear view of the details and the impact that the reforms may have on differing groups of Americans. Because minorities (with the exception of Asian Americans) tend to earn less money than the majority class, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, they stand to benefit the most from the health care reform act.
What’s in it for minorities?
In 2014, Medicaid will be expanded to incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level or $14,404 for individuals and $29,326 for a family of four, based on the current guidelines provided by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Minorities will also benefit from the wide range of benefits afforded under this legislation, particularly the preventative care tests. This legislation, if coupled with proper awareness, will help minorities seek treatment before it’s too late.
Premium tax credits will help both women and minorities alike, if they earn up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or up to $88,200 for a family of four in 2010. A family of four making $50,000 would receive a credit of $5,800, for example.
What’s in it
for minority women?
A woman’s greatest worry is the future of, and care for her children. This plan puts her at ease because it provides coverage for young adults to age 26. They can stay on their parent’s health care plans or have the option of buying low premium catastrophic plans.
Women of child bearing age will have their maternity costs covered in the new policies that go into effect in 2014. They can purchase these policies from the state-based insurance exchanges.
Insurers will not be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions from 2014 and on. Right now, since the bill passed children with pre-existing conditions are already covered or their policies are “guaranteed issued.”
There are now no lifetime limits on the dollar value of health insurance coverage. Today most plans have benefit caps, such as a $3 million lifetime benefit.
What if you already have health insurance?
Employees getting insurance through their employers will see an average decrease in the cost of their premiums of up to 3 percent by 2016.
In 2014, you can no longer be charged higher rates based on your health status or gender, and insurers cannot extend waiting periods beyond 90 days.
Starting next year, reimbursements from health flexible spending accounts (health FSAs) and health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) for over-the-counter drugs will be restricted. In addition, beginning in 2013, contributions to health FSAs will be limited to $2,500 per year. Finally, the income threshold for itemizing medical expense deductions will increase from 7.5 percent to 10 percent in 2013.
What if you don’t
If you don’t have insurance, or if it’s too expensive, the new reforms may make it easier for you to get and keep health insurance. By 2014, insurers will have to accept you regardless of your health history, and premiums can only vary based on tobacco use and age.
In 2014, Medicaid availability is expanded to those under age 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. You will also have state-based American health benefit exchanges, available by 2014, through which you can buy health insurance from various plans.