Timeline: What's Changing and When
Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010, many changes in our healthcare system are already making a difference for working families.
Millions more Americans are counting on the insurance protections and benefits of the law that will roll out over the next four years and beyond, with most changes taking place by 2014.
Already In Effect
More Affordable Healthcare; Lowering Costs
- No lifetime limits and restricted annual limits on coverage of essential health benefits.
- Parents can receive rebates for the cost of their prescriptions under Medicare.
- Small businesses with 25 or fewer employees will be able to deduct up to 35% of their health care premium costs from their taxes, making the cost of coverage cheaper.
Greater Access To Care
- Young adults can stay covered under our policy until the age of 26.
- All new plans must cover preventive screenings and immunizations.
- States can receive federal matching funds for covering some additional low-income individuals and families under Medicaid for whom federal funds were not previously available.
- New incentives to grow the primary care doctor workforce so you can find a physician when you need one.
- Consumer can access an an easy-to-use website (healthcare.gov) to compare health insurance coverage options and pick the coverage that works for them.
- New funding to support the construction of and expansion of services at community health centers.
Holding Insurance Companies Accountable
- Children can't be denied care because of a pre-existing condition.
- Insurers are not allowed to drop people from health plans because of illness.
- The ability to appeal coverage determinations or claims by your insurance company in all new plans.
Insurance transparency is making your insurance better. Beginning January 2011, all insurance plans have to report how much of your premiums they spend on care and provide you rebates if they spend too much on profits.
- At least 85% of all premium dollars collected by insurance companies for large employer plans must be spent on health care services and health care quality improvement.
- For plans sold to individuals and small employers, at least 80% of the premium must be spent on benefits and quality improvement.
States can receive federal matching funds for covering some additional low-income individuals and families under Medicaid for whom federal funds were not previously available.
Expanded funding for scholarships and loan repayments for primary care practitioners working in underserved areas participating in the National Health Service Corps.
Cracks down on healthcare fraud to lower overall costs. Requires enhanced screening procedures for healthcare providers to eliminate fraud and waste.
Helps seniors save money by providing a free, annual wellness visit and personalized prevention plan services for Medicare beneficiaries and eliminates cost-sharing for preventive services.
- Seniors will get $250 if their prescription drug expenses reach the "donut hole."
Increases access to home- and community-based services for people living with disabilities so they can choose to live independently at home.
The uninsured have more access to affordable care through community health centers.
- Money will be provided to expand current community health centers and create new ones, increasing the number of new places for free or low-cost care.
Newest Benefits of the Affordable Care Act
Here are new benefits and protections of the law that start in 2012:
More Options for Seniors to Choose to Live at Home.
January 1, 2012: The Affordable Care Act creates "Independence at Home" demonstration programs to test the effectiveness of physician and nurse practitioner directed home-based primary care for those Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions.
Strengthening Medicare and Preventing Waste, Fraud and Abuse.
January 1, 2012: The Affordable Care Act strengthens prevention tactics against fraud and abuse with screening, oversight, reporting and additional registration for providers and suppliers of services for these programs.
Tracking the Facts About Healthcare Disparities
March 23, 2012: In order to gain a better understanding of how factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, sex, primary language and environment affect our health , the Affordable Care Act enhances the requirements for reporting in these areas for Americans who receive their care through Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
No-Cost Preventive Services
The Affordable Care Act makes preventive care affordable and accessible for all Americans by requiring health plans to cover recommended preventive services without co-pays or premium costs. Before the law passed, too many Americans didn't get the preventive health care they need to stay healthy, avoid or delay the onset of disease. The preventive services included in this part of the law include regular pediatrician visits for children; cancer screening such as pap smears, mammograms and colonoscopy for adults; recommended immunizations, flu shots, healthy diet counseling and obesity screening.
August 2012: Additional preventive services specific to women, such as screening for gestational diabetes and contraception, will be covered by new health plans with no co-pays.
Currently existing health insurance policies as of August 1, 2013 and in new health plans starting in August 2012. Religiously-affiliated institutions will have one year to comply with the law. Americans who are not able to access reproductive health services through their employer will be able to get this coverage through their insurance company.
Easy-to-Read Coverage Summaries for Consumers
September 23, 2012: Insurance is complicated and often the language used by insurance companies is difficult to understand, incredibly detailed and very lengthy. It is nearly impossible to use this information to compare plans. The Affordable Care Act requires private individual and group plans to provide short, easy to read uniform summary of benefits and coverage to all health insurance applicants and enrollees. Having access to this information in layman's language is key to understanding coverage and choosing the plan that is personally best.
Still To Come...
Improves preventive healthcare coverage by providing new funding to states who provide preventive services to Medicaid recipients at little or no cost.
Healthcare plans must start using electronic records to reduce administrative costs and streamline services.
Strengthens America's primary care doctor network by requiring states to pay primary care physicians the same rate Medicare pays.
Strong health insurance reforms take effect to protect Americans' healthcare coverage.
- Health insurance companies can longer refuse to sell or renew policies based upon an individual's health status, or deny coverage for treatments based on pre-existing health conditions.
- New restrictions limit insurance companies' ability to charge higher rates due to heath status, gender or other factors.
- No more annual limits on the coverage a person can receive for essential health benefits.
You may be eligible for healthcare premium subsidies to reduce the amount you pay for your health insurance through a new insurance exchange if you're not offered affordable coverage through an employer.
Employers have new responsibilities to provide affordable coverage.
- For example: employers (with 50 or more full time equivalent employees) who do not offer coverage to their employees to pay $2,000 annually for each full-time employee toward their healthcare costs if one or more employees receives a premium subsidy through a new insurance exchange.
Creates more affordable health insurance options for Americans by establishing health insurance exchanges ("the exchange").
- The exchanges will help individuals and small group purchasers compare plans and provide more affordable coverage by pooling individuals and small businesses into a larger pool.
Promotes individual responsibility. If affordable healthcare options are available, but an individual chooses not to purchase a plan, the law requires most individuals obtain acceptable health insurance coverage or pay a fee as little as $95 for 2014.
- If affordable coverage is not available, this fee is waived.
The small business tax credit is expanded for qualified small employers.