Affordable Care Act Revisited

So much has been made about the Affordable Care Act’s troubles, that the law’s substantial benefits have largely been lost in the conversation. Here is a quick primer on how the law is benefiting millions of Americans and why California’s health care exchange, Covered California,is being held up as a model for the country to see how this law can work. 

The Affordable Care Act is a lifeline for most of the 1.7 million uninsured people in Los Angeles County.  In fact, the Affordable Care Act will help 7 out of every 10 uninsured people in our county.

There will be a small percentage of Californians who will see their healthcare costs go up, but more than 32 million Californians get to keep their preferred coverage, and another 4 million have the opportunity to become insured. Nearly 900,000 people must buy better benefits because their existing plans have too many holes in the coverage, including a lack of preventive care or plans without a cap on out-of-pocket costs. Nonetheless, Covered California estimates that one out of every three of these 900,000 people statewide who have to buy better benefits, will qualify for a tax credit to reduce their costs.

Also, it is important to remember is that the ACA is the first step toward affordable universal health care and good things take time. When Massachusetts launched its own health care law in 2006, only 123 people signed up—or less than 1percent of those who eventually signed up within the enrollment period—in the first month. With several years of health reform under its belt, Massachusetts has seen significant reductions in healthcare disparities and inequities, and now has the smallest percentage of uninsured residents of all 50 states.

Here is a basic primer on the benefits of this law:

  • For one, insurance companies have to be more transparent with their charges and their quality so you can make a better choice.
  • Your out-of-pocket expenses will be capped.
  • Insurance companies cannot deny you coverage or charge you higher rates because of your gender or because you have a preexisting medical condition, like cancer or diabetes.
  • Insurance companies must all provide you certain critical health services and must give you preventive care visits for free.
  • Insurance companies use 80-85 percent of the money you pay for health services rather than administrative costs.
  • Insurance companies must allow you to keep your kids on your plan until they turn 26.

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