Over the past year, there has been much conflicting information about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to a new Kaiser Family Foundation monthly tracking poll, 50 percent of uninsured people have no clue what health benefits are coming. Fewer than 31 percent say they think the law will help them obtain health insurance, though the ACA will insure 32 million people who currently do not have coverage.
But, the media, politics and the government have not done the best job communicating this info. NPR reported:
Among those lacking insurance, 41 percent incorrectly think the law lacks provisions to help those with modest means pay for health insurance (7 percent said they didn't know) and 37 percent incorrectly said the law doesn't include an expansion of the Medicaid program to low-income, able-bodied adults (16 percent weren't sure).
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, starting in 2014, here are key changes that every American should know:
· Insurers will no longer be allowed to deny consumers coverage because of pre-existing conditions or raise their premiums if they develop problems.
· Coverage options will expand. An expansion of Medicaid will bring coverage to an estimated 16 million new enrollees and 40 percent of them will be under 30 years old.
· Individuals can also seek coverage from state-run exchanges — a new competitive marketplace for private health insurance that’s designed to give individuals and small businesses access to affordable coverage.
· Essential mental health and substance use disorder services must be covered as part of the benefits package by all insurance policies offered through the exchanges and Medicaid.
· Right now, adult children of the already-insured. Since September 2010, parents who purchase or renew insurance plans can obtain coverage for their children up to age 26.
It's also important to note that the ACA doesn't just impact the uninsured, it strengthens the coverage for people who are already insured.
· ACA eliminates lifetime caps on benefits and restricts insurers’ use of annual caps for all new plans issued after December 2010. So if you have chronic conditions that are expensive, you can seek your services and not lose your insurance.
· ACA also puts a stop to rescission — the practice of dropping patients from coverage, usually when their medical expenses are high — except in cases of misrepresentation or fraud.
· ACA also focuses on preventive health, which means that consumers purchasing new plans will no longer have to face copayments or other forms of cost-sharing for preventive services, such as depression screening, drug and alcohol misuse screening and smoking cessation efforts.
To learn more about ACA and how it will impact your health care, click here.
(Photo: Christopher Furlong/GettyImages)
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