On Sunday, the United States House of Representatives passed a historic piece of legislation; a healthcare reform bill that promises to extend coverage to millions who have been denied for reasons ranging from poverty to preexisting conditions. It was a resounding victory for President Barack Obama, but how will this new law affect you? We looked into the bill to find out what changes will kick in immediately and what we're going to have wait a few years for. Here's a breakdown:
- Effective immediately, insurance companies will no longer be able to cap or limit the amount they spend on your care in a lifetime. This is especially important for those struggling with lifetime chronic illness and or potentially fatal diseases (i.e. cancer, HIV, emphysema).
- Insurance carriers will no longer be able to deny you coverage based on preexisting conditions. The new law stipulates that $5 billion be set aside to help cover those have been denied insurance in the past. This money is earmarked to be used until the full coverage of the bill comes into effect in 2014.
- Insurance co.'s will have to extend coverage for children up to the age 26, effective immediately. Right now, the carriers are only obligated to cover older children up until they graduate college.
- A $250 credit will be extended to all seniors on Medicaid, in order to help close the gap in coverage as it pertains to prescription drug plans. This is a temporary fix as the bill enforces much stricter cost caps to drug companies, ensuring that prescriptions drug prices will be reduced by up to 50 percent in 2011 and up to 75 percent by 2020.
- Health insurance exchanges touted heavily by the Obama administration will take effect, allowing small businesses, as well as those who are self-employed and/or unemployed to band together to buy less expensive insurance coverage.
- You will be required to have health insurance or face fines ranging from $95 or 1 percent of your income, whichever is greater. By 2015 the fee will go up to 2 percent of gross income, and by 2016 it rises to 2.5 percent. This plan includes an exemption for poor families and families of four making less thank $88,000 annually.
- Medicaid will be expanded to cover poor adults and not just the elderly or those with children.
- Tax breaks will be provided to families to assist in offsetting the cost of health insurance coverage. The amounts will be based on annual income.
Tell us: What do you think about the healthcare reform legislation? Are you happy that it passed? Do you think it goes far enough? Share your thoughts in the comments below!