The Pros of Obamacare
One of the major pieces of legislation to affect the US health care system is the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). This was signed into law on March 23, 2010 by President Barack Obama. Despite attempts by previous administrations, none was successful in achieving significant reform of the health care system. However, the health reform law, disapprovingly referred to as Obamacare by some members of the Republican Party, has created a stir of controversy regarding its effectiveness, overall costs and potential impact on the US debt.
Obamacare has many pros and offers several benefits for the individual patient, families as well as for medical practices. The main goals of Obamacare are to provide affordable health insurance to all Americans and to ultimately reduce health care costs. This means extending coverage to about 32 million Americans who lack insurance and protecting consumers from discriminatory and unfair practices established by insurance companies. Different aspects of the law are scheduled to take effect over time with full implementation expected by 2020.
Benefits for Patients
The Affordable Care Act offers benefits for a wide cross-section of people regardless of income, health condition, age and gender. Some pros of the law include:
•Unemployed persons earning income up to $15,000 annually may be eligible for health coverage for a single individual under Medicaid effective 2014, with income requirement for families being more.
•Patients may no longer be discriminated against or denied health insurance coverage due to pre-existing conditions such as having a disability, cancer or having been pregnant or simply being a child.
•Persons who join new health plans may be eligible for some preventative services, including mammograms and new baby care without having to provide copay or incur out-of-pocket expenses.
•Patients, who enroll in new insurance plans after March 23, 2010 may choose their own doctors and primary care providers from their plan’s network without requiring a referral.
•Seniors will continue to receive their Medicare benefits and those who fall in the ‘donut hole’ due to high prescriptions costs, qualify for at 50% discount on brand name drugs covered under Medicare as well a one-time tax free rebate of $250.
•Patients will no longer be subject to lifetime dollar limits on their coverage.
•Consumers are provided with The Patient’s Bill of Rights, which protect them from increases in insurance caps or loss of insurance due to a tragedy or accidents.
Benefits for Families
Health care and insurance is one of the major expenses facing many families. However, some benefits that families may receive from Obamacare include:
•Parents being able to include coverage for children aged under 26 years on their dependent policy effective September 2010.
•New and work related health plans may no longer demand or limit coverage to persons below 19 years old based on pre-existing conditions.
•Families without job related insurance and whose income fall below $88,000, or the amount that is comparable to the earnings of a family of four, may be eligible for tax credits to help with insurance coverage payments as of 2014.
•Extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Programs to exclude deductions for preventative health care services.
•The Affordable Insurance Exchange or marketplace that is scheduled to begin in 2014, will allow individuals and businesses to buy insurance that provides coverage for pregnancy and newborn care as well as for children’s dental and vision.
Benefits for Medical Practices
Obamacare is designed to benefit all stakeholders, including medical practices that support the law by:
•Increasing and improving the use of electronic health records to enhance patient tracking, collaboration and focus on patient orientation.
•Implementing simplified administrative processes to help reduce costs, time, staffing, duplications and wastes.
•Utilizing patient care results from funded research on patient-focused outcomes.
•Benefiting from incentive bonus to physicians and primary care providers and teams who participate in programs such as accountable care organizations and bundled and patient-centered medical homes to improve care coordination and quality.
•Incorporating a team of non-physician providers and decreasing re-admissions by working with hospitals to restructure patient care.
Obamacare is a landmark law that is designed to significantly change how the health care system in the US operates. Health reform provides many benefits and affordable coverage to all Americans.