On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the health care reform bill. It is also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). This legislation makes sweeping changes to the U.S. health care system. Some of the changes have already begun but many do not take effect until 2014.
Key changes that are in place for group plans include extended coverage for young adults until age 26, the elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions for children and the elimination of annual and lifetime limits. There also has been a phase-in of a tax credit for small businesses if they qualify.
For individual and group plans additional preventive health coverage is now mandated. You may now be eligible to receive wellness visits and testing at no charge. If you participate in a Flexible Savings Account, you have already seen the change with the over-the-counter (OTC) medications not being eligible for pre-tax status. And if you participate in a Medicare Part D prescription plan, there is now a $250 rebate if you fall into the “donut hole.”
There have been many internal requirements that the insurance carriers have been implementing regarding insurance practices, medical loss ratios and appeals processing.
The total implementation of the health care reform law continues to come under fire, as there are numerous lawsuits from the states. Time will tell as to how the law moves forward, but at this time, it would make sense for everyone to become a better consumer of what their insurance coverage is and how it impacts you.