Just about everyone in the country is wondering how the passage of the health reform bill by Congress will affect them. According to Kaiser Health News, this historic legislation could have an effect on almost every citizen. People, even those who are unemployed, will be able to get medical care. But professionals who have been enjoying the best health coverage available might possibly see their benefits dwindle. What Are the Immediate Changes? There are certain things that will happen in the first six months after the bill is actually signed into law:
- Insurance companies will not be allowed to put lifetime limits on coverage. This means that people with chronic health conditions will never “use up”� all of their insurance coverage.
- People with children on their company insurance plan can keep unmarried dependents enrolled until they turn 26. This is very important because of the number of college graduates who are unemployed.
- Insurance plans will be required to cover preventative health services such as colonoscopies, and screenings for things like osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, and for smoking cessation counseling.
- Pre-existing serious health conditions can no longer prevent people from getting Health insurance. They will be able to purchase coverage from a government-subsidized exchange. However, this coverage will not be available until 2014.
Health Insurance Will Be Required. Uninsured people will be required to purchase Health insurance by 2014. Subsidies will be available that reduce the premiums subject to income limits. Penalties will be imposed on people who do not purchase insurance that could be as much as 1% of their income.
Changes to Medicare. Tighter controls might be put on decisions for care that are considered too costly. The care provided to older people might even be restricted. Cancer screening could be denied for older citizens. The Medicare system will see a huge hit because approximately one-half of the health reform costs for the next 10 years will come from the Medicare budget.
Pre-Existing Illnesses and Loss of Coverage. Starting this year, the health reform bill will ensure that insurers can’t deny coverage to any child based on existing health problems. In 2014, this will be expanded to include all applicants. Within the first six months of the bill being signed into law, an insurer cannot drop policyholders except in cases of fraud.
Longer Wait Time to See Your Doctor. Millions more people will have access to health care but the number of healthcare workers will not grow quickly enough to keep up. You can expect to wait about twice as long to get in to see a doctor as you did in the past.
Changes to the Coverage You Get from Your Employer. Employers who offer high-value, “Cadillac’ health plans will probably begin to cut back on those benefits. If they don’t do so by 2019, they could face fines from the government. This could possibly mean no more vision or dental coverage or going to a specialist without a referral from your family doctor.
Benefits for Women. With this new health bill, insurers will have to cover maternity care the same way they cover any other medical procedure, but not until 2014. Employers will also be required to allow break time for mothers who are nursing and a private place where they can use their breast pump.
Losing or Leaving Your Job. If someone quits or loses their job, the same exchanges that help lower income people purchase insurance will be available. This means when you leave your job, you don’t necessarily have to pay the high COBRA costs. This is very important for people with a pre-existing condition. You might even be able to get free health coverage under some circumstances.
Higher Taxes. In 2013, Medicare payroll tax will go up for incomes over $200,000 a year.