Makes it easier to get health insurance
- If you or the person you care for have been uninsured for at least six months and have been denied health coverage because of a health condition, you may be able to get coverage. This coverage – called the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) – is available in your state now. This program continues until the exchanges start in 2014 when everyone can get insurance regardless of health status. You will find more information about how to apply for PCIP at www.pcip.gov.
- Exchanges are new marketplaces where you will be able to buy health insurance. You’ll be able to compare the benefits and costs of health plans side-by-side.
- People shopping for insurance in the exchange will be able to pick among several levels of coverage. This will allow you to find a plan that works for you and your budget.
- All plans sold through the exchanges must cover core benefits. These include medical and mental health care benefits, prescription drugs, and rehabilitation services.
- You can get information on the cost of the health insurance plans when the exchange begins enrollment in every state in late 2013. Coverage starts in 2014.
- You may be able to get tax credits to help you pay for health insurance you buy through an exchange. The amount of help you can get depends on your income.
- If you are eligible for insurance through an exchange and do not buy it, you will be subject to a penalty.
Makes health coverage more affordable
- You no longer have to pay some of the costs for preventive care. This includes services such as immunizations, mammograms and other screenings for certain cancers and diabetes
- Your state has the option in 2014 to make Medicaid available to more people. Your state can also decide not to make this change. You may be able to get tax credits to help you pay for health insurance you buy in the exchange. The amount of help you can get depends on your income.
Improves insurance practices
- Insurance companies can no longer drop your health coverage if you get sick. Your health insurance is guaranteed as long as you pay your premiums.
- Insurance companies can no longer place lifetime or restrictive annual dollar limits on your health coverage. This ensures that your benefits won't run out when you need them the most. The ban on lifetime limits began in 2010.The ban on annual limits begins in 2014.
- Starting in 2014, insurance companies can no longer deny anyone health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.
Improves long-term care services
- You can now get more information about nursing home inspections, complaints against facilities and resident rights. This information will help you make decisions if you need to select a nursing home for the person you care for.
- States can receive more money to expand home– and community-based services. For example, under the Community First Choice Option, states choosing to participate will get more federal dollars to provide certain home- and community-based services to people with disabilities who live at home but need long-term services and supports.
- If you work for a small business that does not offer employee health insurance, the health care law could help you get the coverage you need for yourself and your family.
New employee benefit option
- Small businesses with up to 100 employees can offer "simple cafeteria" plans. These plans will allow you to save part of your salary in an account that you can use later to pay for medical expenses. This will save you money because you don't pay taxes on the money you contribute to this account. Check with your employer to see if this benefit is available to you.