One of the most important pieces of legislation during the administration of President Barack Obama has been the passage of the Affordable Care Act, aptly nicknamed "Obamacare". Possibly no other bill in the last 20 years has been debated as much as Obamacare, with many people singing its praises and others slamming it as the most evil law ever created.
Opponents of Obamacare went to every level to try to repeal the law, taking the case all the way to the supreme court, but after last month's 5 to 4 decision to uphold Obamacare America can be sure that Obamacare will be the law of the land.
Now that we know that we will all be living with this new healthcare bill, the $100,000 question that many average Americans want to know is - "How does Obamcare affect me?".
What is Obamacare?
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a 2,700 page document filled with policies and procedures designed to make health care more affordabe and accessible for all Americans. It also includes a special provision that requires all Americans to have health insurance - the "individual mandate". If you currently do not have insurance or your employer does not provide it you must purchase a policy or pay a penalty in the form of a tax. The individual mandate goes into effect in 2014.
On the surface Obamacare may look like just another bill to pay, but Obamacare was put in place to provide healthcare for those who currently don't have it and to reduce healthcare costs for individuals who already have insurance. Under Obamacare insurance costs should go down based on three simple concepts:
1. Increasing the number of insured people spreads the cost and makes the cost of insurance for everyone go down;
2. Less uninsured people going to the emergency room reduces overall health care cost in the US and will drive insurance costs down; and
3. All the provisions in the bill for preventive care and better treatment should make us all healthier and thus reduce the cost of health insurance.
This theory seems reasonable and government studies show that healthcare costs in America should go lower, but if you're expecting your insurance rates to go down substantially any time soon, forget it. Insurance companies are in the business to make profit and so far there is no evidence of insurance rates doing anything but going up.
Since lower insurance rates is not the main impact of Obamacare what is? Below are the most significant ways Obamacare affects the average individual.
The Top 10 Ways Obamacare affects the Average American
1. Insurance companies will not be able to deny you coverage if you have a pre-existing condition.
2. Insurance companies will not be able to drop you if you are sick.
3. If you have a small business you will be able to get tax credits to help you find the right insurance plan for you and your employees.
4. It will prohibit insurance companies from placing annual and lifetime limits on coverage.
5. Insurance plans will now provide free preventive care without any deductibles or co-pays. This means free mammograms, physical exams, vaccinations and other related tests. See this link at Healthcare.gov for all preventive services covered.
6. Your children will be able to stay on your insurance plan until the age of 26.
7. If you are elderly insurance plans will have to cover the cost of prescription drugs for seniors. Currently there is a “donut hole” where elderly have to cover the cost for prescription drugs when their benefits run out.
8. If you use a community health centers for care you may get better service as Obamacare provides additional funding for these centers.
9. Any fast food restaurant with over 20 chains (think Burger King) will have to list the calorie count and fat content of all their food items.
10. By 2014 you must have health insurance. If you don’t buy it the penalty will be $285 per family or 1% of income, whichever is greater.
Currently 32 million Americans do not have health insurance. Obamacare will greatly reduce that number.
Almost 25% of Americans between the ages of 18 to 25 have no health insurance
The Affordable Care Act is 2,700 pages long!
In general Democrats love Obamacare and Republicans (especially the Tea Party) hate it. When the Supreme Court voted to uphold Obamacare 5-4 4 Democrats voted yes and 4 Republicans voted no. The deciding vote to uphold Obamacare was the Republican Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
A single broken arm or leg could cost up to $100,000 in hospital costs. Without health insurance the cost of treatment could send you into bankruptcy or a lifetime of debt.
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