What is missing from the debate over the Affordable Care Act? What’s in it for you.

By Laura Julstrom, BA and Diana Zuckerman, PhD

Do you want affordable, quality health care for yourself and those you love?  Whether you’re insured or not, chances are the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was passed into law in 2010, has already improved your and your family’s access to health care.   But if you listen to the “experts” shouting about “Obamacare” on TV, you could miss out on how it can help you and your family.

If you’re already insured:

  • You can now add your adult children (up to age 26) for the same price as younger children.
  • Your insurance company can no longer cancel your policy just because you get sick.
  •  Medicare and insurance companies now have to pay for preventive services, and they can’t exclude children with pre-existing conditions or a disability.

The last of the changes mandated by the legislation won’t go into effect until 2014. While the law is not perfect, it has already helped many Americans get access to better and more affordable health care.

What the health care law has already done for you and your family:

  • Insurance companies can no longer put limits or a lifetime “cap” on how much they will pay for your essential health benefits.
  • Insurance companies can’t cancel your insurance coverage because you get sick or make an honest mistake on your insurance application form.
  • Insurance companies cannot increase (by 10% or more) how much they charge you without justifying it first to your state or federal Rate Review program.
  • Most of the premiums you pay must be used to provide or improve health care (not just to make more money for insurance companies).
  • Seniors can now more easily afford prescription drugs.
  • Many young adults under 26 can be covered by their family’s plan.
  • Insurance must pay for preventative care and provide it free of charge, including contraception, mammograms, and domestic violence counseling, as well as screening for HIV/AIDS, cervical cancer, colon cancer and depression.
  • Patients have direct access to an ob-gyn without needing a referral.
  • Children cannot be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

How you will benefit this year and in the coming years:

  • In October 2013, open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace begins. If you are uninsured through your employer or don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare, it will help you get health care coverage that you can afford.
  • By 2014, no one can be denied coverage or charged more for coverage because of sex, disability, or medical history.

This sounds like a big improvement, doesn’t it?  So, why have members of Congress voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”)? For many, opposition to the law is political: even Republicans like Mitt Romney whose Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law helped inspire the ACA, and Newt Gingrich who enthusiastically supported the Massachusetts law, opposed the ACA when they ran for President to win votes.  Let’s not listen to the gloom and doom–those who insist the ACA will destroy the country.  This law will improve the quality of health care and reduce the costs of it for you and your family.  Get the facts not the hype from www.healthcare.gov for the full story.