En español l The health care law provides several benefits to all Americans. Many of the benefits and protections in the health care law are particularly important for those living in rural areas. By understanding what’s in the law, you can make better health care choices for you and your family.
Makes it easier to get health insurance
- Those without insurance, small businesses and self-employed people will be able to purchase health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace by 2014. The Health Insurance Marketplace will offer a choice of plans, making it easier for people in rural areas to compare plans and prices.
- Diabetes and cholesterol screenings, mammograms and immunizations are all completely covered. So you can catch the little things before they turn into bigger problems. Your coverage will also include services such as flu shots and diet counseling to make staying healthy a lot easier.
- Medicare now covers a yearly wellness visit and more preventive care. This includes cancer, cholesterol and diabetes screenings, immunizations, diet counseling and more.
- If you have Medicare Part D, and you reach the coverage gap or “doughnut hole,” you will get more than a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs and more than a 20 percent discount on generic drugs while you are in the coverage gap. The discounts will continue to grow until 2020, when the gap will be a thing of the past.
- Starting in 2014, you may be able to get financial help to pay your premiums for health insurance purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Provides tax credits for small businesses
- If you are a small business owner, you may be able to get tax credits to offset part of the cost of offering health insurance to your employees.
Eliminates discriminatory insurance practices
- Insurance companies can no longer deny you coverage, even if you have a preexisting condition such as diabetes, high-blood pressure or cancer. If you or a family member gets sick or injured, health insurance companies can’t cut off your coverage or cancel your plan.
- In the past, health plans could place dollar limits on the care they would cover in a year or over your lifetime. Now, there are no more dollar limits on your care.
Increases access to health care in rural areas
The law works to improve health care in rural areas. For example:
- Invests in primary care professionals so more Americans have access to primary care
- Provides more resources to medical and nursing schools to train doctors and nurses to work in rural and underserved areas
- Expands community health programs to help manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease
- Ensures that hospital and other providers in rural communities receive Medicare funds they need to offer quality care and keep their doors open
- Expands community-based health care centers in rural areas, as well as grants for school-based health centers in underserved areas
The law makes health insurance more accessible
• By 2014, small businesses, self-employed individuals and anyone without insurance will be able to buy private insurance through a health insurance exchange in their state. Currently in many rural states, one insurance company dominates the market. As a result, consumers have few options. Health insurance exchanges will offer a choice of plans and make it easier for people in rural areas to compare plans and prices.
• If you have a pre-existing condition and have been uninsured for at least six months, the health care law could give you access to insurance coverage. This coverage – known as the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan – is now available in your state. This program will continue until the health insurance exchanges begin in 2014. At that point, all insurance plans will be required to cover pre-existing conditions.
The law lowers costs
• You no longer have to pay some of the out-of-pocket costs for preventive care services, such as mammograms, immunizations and screenings for cancer or diabetes.
• If you have Medicare, you qualify for an annual wellness visit, mammograms and other screenings for diabetes and certain cancers. You will not have to pay for them.
• If you reach the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap, you'll receive a 52.5 percent discount on your brand-name prescription drugs and a 21 percent discount on generic prescriptions while you're in the coverage gap. The discounts will gradually increase until the coverage gap disappears in 2020.
• You may be able to receive tax credits to help pay your premiums for health insurance bought through an exchange.
The law provides tax credits for small businesses
• If you operate a small business in a rural area, you may be able to get tax credits to offset some of the cost of offering health insurance to your employees. An estimated 2.8 million to 4 million small businesses will be eligible for the credits that begin in 2014.
The law eliminates discriminatory insurance practices
• Health insurance companies can no longer drop your health coverage if you become sick. Your insurance is guaranteed as long as you pay your premiums. Additional protections limit excessive premiums due to age, gender or health condition.
• Because insurance companies can no longer place lifetime or annual limits on your health coverage, your benefits won’t run out when you need them the most. The ban on lifetime limits began in 2010, while the ban on annual limits begins in 2014.
Updated August 2013