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The DO | Opinion | In My Opinion

Six months of the Affordable Care Act: Real rights, protections and benefits

In the six months since President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, we have been hard at work implementing the law and focusing on putting consumers ahead of insurance companies.

Kathleen Sebelius

With Nancy-Ann DeParle, Kathleen Sebelius (right) discusses the benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Sebelius is the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. DeParle directs the White House Office of Health Reform. (Photo by Chris Smith/HHS)

Already, millions of Americans are seeing the benefits:

  • Nearly 4 million employees working for small businesses can benefit from small business tax credits to help employers cover their employees.
  • Thousands of uninsured Americans who had been locked out of the market due to pre-existing conditions have signed up for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.
  • More than 2,000 businesses have been accepted into the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, which provides them much needed financial support to continue coverage for retired Americans not yet eligible for Medicare.
  • More than 1 million Medicare beneficiaries have received a $250 check to help them afford the cost of prescription drugs in the Part D “donut hole” coverage gap.

We’ve also kept a close eye on insurance companies, calling out unjustified premium increases and encouraging them to put in place common-sense policies.

This week, a number of other benefits begin to take effect, charting out new rules of the road for health insurance companies:

Putting an end to insurance company abuses. If patients pay their premiums every month, insurance companies won’t be allowed to take away their health insurance just because of a mistake in patients’ paperwork.

Ensuring benefits for patients. Patients will be able to get the care they need without lifetime limits capping their insurance benefits. And eventually, they won’t face annual benefit limits either. In many plans, they’ll have access to preventive services without cost sharing, and they’ll be granted new rights to appeal decisions by their insurance companies that deny benefits.

Covering kids and young adults. Nearly all insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage to children due to pre-existing conditions. And for insurance plans that cover dependents, they’ll have to cover most young adults up to age 26.

We still have a long way to go until 2014, when the new health insurance exchanges are in place and additional provisions get us closer to all Americans having access to affordable, quality health insurance. But we are making big steps in the right direction, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

To learn more, visit HealthCare.gov today.

A former governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius has been the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services since April 2009. This year, Modern Healthcare named her the nation’s second most powerful person in health care.

3 Responses

  1. Joshua D. Lenchus, DO, RPh, FACP, FHM on Oct. 12, 2010, 10:32 p.m.

    Kudos to the administration for touting the recent benefits that have been realized. However, what about the cost? Please remind me who will bear that? Ah yes, the rest of the country. Perhaps you may have noticed what McDonald’s thinks of the law – 30,000 employees may have to purchase their own insurance. This is perfect for the White House as the more citizens who are on the government rolls, the greater the likelihood of a socialized medicine state. Ever increasing government-run health plans, without the ceiling of premiums like a private insurance company, means that the government will simply increase everyone’s taxes to pay for it. I’m especially excited about the actuarial analysis of the total cost. Only the federal government can publish a 10 year analysis of the bill counting 10 years of expenditures against 6 years of taxes, and call that a decrease in health care costs. Let’s take a look at the next decade – how much does that cost according to the CBO? How many uninsured will there be after 2020?

  2. Marlow Hernandez, MPH, MS-IV on Oct. 23, 2010, 11:30 a.m.

    I could not agree more with Dr. Lenchus. The costs will be astronomical, yet healthcare quality will suffer. Healthcare reform will only work if the government empowers the private market to provide care.

  3. robert migliorino,d.o. on Aug. 3, 2013, 10:58 a.m.

    Unbelievable!!!!! Another AOA,kiss up to Obama,article. Next they will build an Obama temple next to Farrakhan’s on the South Side where Chicago’s most influential reside!

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