The health care law provides to all Americans several new benefits and protections, including many that are particularly important to Hispanics/Latinos. The law:
Increases efforts to reduce disparities in the health care system
• The law moves toward eliminating the disparities that Hispanics/Latinos currently face — in their health and in their health care — by investing in research about health disparities.
• The law expands initiatives to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of health care professionals and it strengthens training among health care providers to focus on cultural issues.
• The law invests in primary care professionals to ensure that all Americans have access to primary care providers.
• The law invests in health care innovations, such as community health teams, to help people manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Makes health insurance more accessible
• People without insurance, small businesses and self-employed individuals will be able to buy private health insurance through state-based health insurance exchanges. The exchanges will be in place by 2014. Uninsured people who are eligible for insurance through an exchange but do not buy it will be subject to a penalty.
• The law provides access to insurance coverage before 2014 for people with pre-existing conditions who have been uninsured for at least six months. This coverage — called the Pre-existing condition Insurance Plan — is now available in your state. This coverage will continue until the health insurance exchanges begin in 2014, at which time all insurance plans will be required to cover pre-existing conditions.
• You no longer incur out-of-pocket costs for preventive care services such as mammograms, immunizations and screenings for diabetes or certain cancers.
• If you have Medicare, you qualify for an annual wellness visit, as well as mammograms and other screenings for diabetes or certain cancers.
• If you reach the Medicare Part D coverage gap in 2013, you will receive discounts on your prescription drugs. You’ll get a 52.5 percent on brand-name drugs and 21 percent on generics. The discounts will gradually increase until the coverage gap disappears in 2020. How much you’ll pay out of pocket for each drug may vary depending on your Part D plan.
• You may be able to receive tax credits to help you pay for health insurance bought through an exchange.
Eliminates discriminatory insurance practices
• Health insurance companies can no longer drop your health coverage if you become sick. Your health insurance is guaranteed so long as you continue to pay the premiums.
• Health insurance companies can no longer charge excessive premiums due to a person's gender and age.
• Since insurance companies can no longer place lifetime or annual limits on your health coverage, your health care 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.
Helps pay for long-term care
• If your husband or wife is on Medicaid and receiving care services at home, you will have the same protections for your income and other resources as do the spouses of Medicaid recipients who live in nursing homes. This provision takes effect in 2014.
• Your state may receive financial incentives to provide greater access to the services and supports you'll need to live independently in your own home and community.