Q. If health reform is so important, why do we have to wait until 2014 for it?
A. You don't have to wait. Some provisions of the 2010 Affordable Care Act are already in effect, while other more complex changes begin on Jan. 1, 2014.
It takes some time because Congress gave a long to-do list to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, other federal agencies and, in some cases, state governments. On the to-do list:
- Set up state insurance purchasing exchanges to help consumers do comparison shopping for health coverage
- Close the Medicare drug coverage gap
- Require insurance companies to accept applicants with pre-existing health problems
- Require most people to have insurance and offer help with premiums to make insurance affordable
- Provide tax credits to small businesses that offer employees health coverage
- Expand coverage to an estimated 32 million uninsured people