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Call It What You Want

April 5th, 2012 at 08:29 pm

Whether you call it the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare, one thing is for sure: major parts of the health care law have already taken effect. While we sit and wait for the Supreme Court to rule whether it is constitutional to require people to purchase health care insurance, people at all income levels have started to take advantage of the law.

There are two parts that apply directly to those who are retired or nearing retirement.
1. More than 32 million people 65 and older have already received free preventive services, including an annual ‘wellness’ visit to a doctor. There is no co-pay or deductible, and no need for a Medicare supplement. Preventive care is also free of charge for working people as part of their employer health plans. The idea here is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

2. The so-called prescription drug ‘donut hole’ is shrinking, and by 2020 it should go away entirely. The donut hole is the portion of the Medicare Part D drug benefit program in which prescription drug costs skyrocket until a certain payment level is reached, and then costs go back down. Prescription drug costs for name-brand drugs have been reduced 50%, and as a result, more than three million Medicare recipients have saved about $2 billion on their prescriptions.

Other parts of the law that have taken effect: (1) The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) provides insurance now for people who are uninsured and have a pre-existing condition that prevents them from getting health coverage. (2) Federal tax credits are now available to small businesses that offer health insurance to their workers. (3) Young adults can now stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until the age of 26.

Your doctor’s office or your employer’s human resources department can tell you more about how the law affects you. Most polls show that by a slight margin, Americans are against the new health care law. But like it or not, you may be able to benefit right now.

2 Responses to “Call It What You Want”

  1. patientsaver Says:

    The pre-existing health coverage aspect won't fully take effect until 2014. Right now, in order to qualify for PCIP, you have to go without any type of health insurance for 6 months, something that most people with a serious pre-existing health condition can't do.

    So the law now benefits only those destitute enough that they have no other choice but to go without health insurance at all. those who would rather not play russian roulette with their health don't benefit.

    It's a little misleading to say that people are mostly against the law. Most people favor one aspect or another of it, if not the whole package. For instance, most people like the idea that adult children can remain on their parents' plan for a time.

    Without the reform package, we're back to where we started, which is out of control health care costs which rise each year far beyond the capacity of many to pay for it.

  2. Jerry Says:

    I don't know what the answer is, but the health insurance system is definitely broken in the US. I look at places like Switzerland and Holland and they seem to do a very good job of managing a system with both private and public elements. Why is this not a selling point in the US? It's really frustrating.

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