On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed historic legislation overhauling our Nation's broken health care system. After months of debate in Congress and in the media, we've heard the basic facts about how the new law - the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - will ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care: It will provide coverage to 32 million more people - or more than 94% of Americans - while lowering health care costs for everyone over the long term. It bars insurance companies from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions, health status and gender. It provides small businesses and working families with tax credits to help purchase insurance. And it strengthens Medicare and closes the prescription drug "donut hole." But many Americans are still asking - what does the new health care law mean for me and my family?
To help you answer this question, I have created a tool for my website - linked here - that provides straightforward information about what the health care overhaul means for you. Just answer six simple questions like what kind of insurance you have now, how much money you make and how many people are in your family, and the tool will explain what benefits you'll see right away and what will happen to your insurance and your taxes when the new law takes full effect in 2014.
For example, let's say you are a single mother of two children, making $40,000 per year, and that your daughter has a disability. Right now, you have health insurance through your employer. You would answer the questions on the website, click "Submit," and the following information would appear at the bottom of your screen:
Your premiums and other costs will not go up because of health care reform. You can keep your current insurance plan and your doctor. If the cost of your employer-provided insurance is more than 9.5% of your income, you will be eligible for tax credits that will help you purchase coverage through the new insurance exchange starting in 2014. There will also be a cap on your maximum out-of-pocket costs like co-pays and deductibles based on your income.
• Adult children. Additionally, if you have children, you will be able to keep them on your insurance until they turn 26 years old. If they are 25 or younger now and not currently on your insurance plan, you will be able to re-enroll them during your next open enrollment period after September of this year.
• Taxes. Your taxes will not go up because of health care reform.
• Gender is no longer a pre-existing condition. Health insurance companies can no longer discriminate against you and charge higher premiums because you are a woman.
• No denial of coverage. Health care reform will prohibit insurance companies from denying you coverage because of a pre-existing condition or disability.
What benefits will I see right away?
• No drops. Starting in September, health insurance companies will no longer be able to drop you from your plan because you get sick or need coverage.
• No discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions. Health insurance companies will not be allowed to deny coverage or charge higher premiums for children with pre-existing conditions or disabilities beginning in September, 2010. (This prohibition will apply to new insurance plans for people of all ages starting in 2014.)
• Free preventive care. All new private insurance plans will be required to cover preventive services with no co-payments and no deductibles starting in September.
• No lifetime limits on coverage. Starting in September, insurance companies will not be allowed to put lifetime caps on essential coverage.
If you need help navigating the website tool, or if you want more information about the health care overhaul, please feel free to call my office in DC at 202-225-5126. My staff and I will be happy to answer your questions.