Column: The Affordable Care Act: How might it impact you?You’ve most likely heard of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — it’s certainly been a very politically debated and legally contested law.
By: Ann Busche, For the Budgeteer News
You’ve most likely heard of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — it’s certainly been a very politically debated and legally contested law.
Recently released polling information showed that 42 percent of Americans are unaware that the Affordable Care Act is in fact law. This includes 12 percent who believe the law has been repealed by Congress, 7 percent who believe it has been overturned by the Supreme Court, and 23 percent who say they don’t know enough to say what the status of the law is (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll, April 2013; www.kff.org).
About 50 percent of those polled say they don’t have enough information to know how the ACA may impact them or their family. If you want to learn more, you can wade through lots of detail at the website www.healthcare.gov. If not, here are a just four items (there are many more) contained within the ACA that will be effective in 2014 that may impact you or your family.
• Pre-existing health condition — the ACA prohibits health insurance companies from refusing to sell coverage or renew policies because of an individual’s pre-existing conditions. Just a few examples of pre-existing conditions are diabetes, heart disease, or cancer; it is generally any health issue for which a diagnosis has been given which could re-occur and require additional or ongoing treatment.
• Annual limits on insurance coverage — the ACA prohibits new plans and existing group plans from imposing annual dollar limits on the amount of coverage an individual may receive; this generally will impact adults with cancer or other serious illness or children with significant health issues who could run out of coverage later in life.
• Increasing access to Medicaid — the ACA allows Americans who earn less than 133 percent of the poverty level (approximately $14,000 for an individual and $29,000 for a family of four) to be eligible for Medicaid.
• Health insurance marketplace — the ACA creates a health insurance marketplace, or exchange, where individuals and small businesses can buy qualified health benefit plans. Individuals who work for larger employers who offer health insurance as a benefit for employees would continue to receive health insurance through their employer and are not impacted by the creation of the marketplace.
Over the next several months, you will certainly hear more about the health insurance marketplace. In Minnesota, the Minnesota Insurance Marketplace Act was signed by Governor Dayton on March 20, 2013. In addition, the name for the marketplace, MNsure, was unveiled. You can check out MNsure by going to the website at www.mn.gov/hix.
According to the website, MNsure is described as an online marketplace where individuals, families and small businesses will be able to get quality, affordable health coverage that fits their budget.
MNsure will offer:
•an easy-to-use website where you can search and compare plans
•a hotline you can call to talk with someone about your options
•and places where you can sign up in your community
MNsure will do many things. It will:
•Be a one-stop place to shop for health insurance plans
•Lay out plan options side-by-side for easy comparison
•Ensure that plans meet certain baseline benefit standards
•Let you know if you qualify for tax credits or financial assistance
•Let you know if you qualify for a low-cost or free plan
•Allow you to apply and enroll online in health benefit plans
•Show you what your potential cost will be
•Give you examples of average costs for common health services
•Show you quality ratings for hospitals and clinics in your community
Hopefully, this article provides basic information that will be helpful as these components of the ACA are implemented over the next several months in preparation for a January 2014 effective date.
Ann Busche is the director of Public Health and Human Services for St. Louis County. Contact her at 726-2096 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org