Happy 2nd Birthday Affordable Care Act; Guest Blog by Jan Hudson
Today marks the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
The ACA, though just a “toddler,” has accomplished untold good in providing medical care and health security for Michiganians. But, the best is yet to come in 2014, when major provisions will be implemented, including the new competitive health care coverage marketplace (called the exchange) where individuals/families will compare and purchase quality individual health plans, or apply for the expanded Medicaid program as well as the subsidies that make health care coverage more affordable.
Provisions already implemented that provide key benefits and protections are:
• No denials for children with pre-existing conditions. This provision provides peace of mind for parents who have children with asthma or other pre-existing conditions for which insurance companies previously denied coverage altogether or for that specific condition.
• The young adults under age 26 can remain on their parents’ employer-sponsored coverage even if they are not a student or an IRS tax dependent. This policy has reduced the number of uninsured young adults by 2.5 million nationwide. Nearly58,000 Michigan young adults have gained coverage.
• Insurance companies must spend at least 80 percent of premiums on medical care/quality improvements or provide rebates. Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, with the League and other partners fought to ensure that rebates will be paid in Michigan according to the law. The first rebates are expected in August 2012, providing 2.5 million Michiganians better value for their premium dollars.
• Medicare Part D improvements for those who reach the “donut hole” provide cash rebates of $250 to nearly 91,000 Michiganians in 2010; 50 percent discounts for brand-name drugs staring in 2011. Discounts were provided to more than 84,000 Michiganians, saving Medicare beneficiaries nearly $49 million.
• Coverage of preventive services with no cost sharing under Medicare and private coverage. In 2011 in Michigan, more than 1.1 million individuals with Medicare and more than 1.8 million individuals with private coverage benefited.
Provisions to come in 2014 include:
• Protections for adults from denials or surcharges for pre-existing conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, or C-section, providing more security and control over one’s coverage. Women can no longer be charged more for the same coverage provided to men. Maternity benefits must be included in private policies; nationally only 13 percent currently provide maternity coverage.
• Medicaid will be expanded to cover roughly 500,000 uninsured Michiganians those with income up to 133 percent of poverty ($29,327 for a family of four). Individuals/families must simply meet the income requirement.
• Families will no longer have to fear that the loss or a change of jobs will result in becoming uninsured. Coverage options as well as possible subsidies (incomes less than $88,000 for family of four) will be available through the new health care coverage marketplace, the exchange.
But there are threats to our newly gained health security. The Supreme Court will soon rule on the constitutionality of several provisions of the ACA. Challenges were dismissed by 19 courts. Oral arguments begin Monday with a decision in late June. It is essential that the justices understand that the law is currently helping millions of Americans with millions more to benefit in 2014.
You can show your support and protect your health care rights by signing on to Families USA’s “People’s Amicus Brief.”
So, happy birthday to the ACA. We’re looking forward to continued progress on implementing the ACA and to its 3rd birthday.