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AARP The Magazine

The Health Care Law's 10 Essential Benefits

The Affordable Care Act ensures you’ll have access to these medical and wellness services

Affordable Care Act (Oliver Munday)

ER coverage

3. Emergency Care

You go to a hospital emergency room with a sudden and serious condition, such as the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. The emergency visit is already covered under most plans. But under the reform law, emergency room visits do not require preauthorization, and you cannot be charged extra for an out-of-network visit.

Affordable Care Act (Oliver Munday)

Therapy visits

4. Mental Health Services

Many plans don't cover mental or behavioral health services, but that will change under the law. Patients may be billed around $40 per session. In some states, though, coverage may be limited to a set number of therapy visits per year.

Affordable Care Act (Oliver Munday)

Inpatient care

5. Hospitalization

Under the law, your insurer must cover your hospitalization, though you may have to pay 20 percent of the bill or more if you haven't reached your out-of-pocket limit. Some hospitals charge $2,000 a day for room and board alone, and $20,000 with medical services, so those bills can soar. This year, medical costs will help bankrupt 650,000 American households — including many who thought they had decent insurance until diagnosed with a serious illness.

Affordable Care Act (Oliver Munday)

Therapeutic care

6. Rehabilitative and Habilitative Services

If you are injured or become ill, many plans today cover rehabilitation therapies to relieve pain and help you regain your ability to speak, walk or work. The plans often cover medical equipment, too, including canes, knee braces, walkers and wheelchairs. Few plans, however, address the reform law's essential requirement for "habilitative" services, which are therapies to help overcome long-term disabilities, such as those that accompany a disease like multiple sclerosis.

Next page: Laboratory services and care for mothers and children. »

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