BigNews.Biz - Apr 10,2012 - Amid Health Reform Debate, Some Indisputable Facts
We recently marked the second anniversary of passage of the Affordable Care Act – the landmark health care reform law that we passed in 2010. In the two years since, there has continued to be a vigorous debate about the law, and after the Supreme Court recently heard several days of arguments about the law, I’m sure that debate will continue.
This bill will help make health insurance more secure for those who already have it and make coverage available for millions of uninsured Americans. And it is important to remember that for those who already have health insurance, the law allows you to keep your existing plan. While much of the law has yet to take effect, already it has made significant improvements in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Michiganians and millions of Americans.
Maybe the biggest immediate impact was the Affordable Care Act’s improvements for young people, who have already benefited from some important provisions that have gone into effect. For instance, as of September 2010, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing health conditions. This is a monumental achievement, one that will help ensure that children with life threatening illnesses will be assured access to health insurance. In 2014, these protections will be extended to all ages.
Additionally, as of September 2010, young adults are now allowed to remain covered by their parents’ health insurance until age 26. As a result, as of last year, more than 57,000 young people in Michigan, and nearly 2.5 million nationwide, have health insurance they might otherwise have had to go without.
The law also made a number of changes to Medicare that in addition to helping preserve this important program for future beneficiaries gave new benefits to existing Medicare patients.
For example, Medicare now assures free preventive care, such as annual checkups, cancer screenings, flu shots and mammograms. More than 1 million Michigan beneficiaries of Medicare now have access to these important preventive-care services without cost. That’s better for beneficiaries – who will be healthier as a result – and it can also help lower overall costs by catching health problems early before they’re more severe and more expensive to treat.
The law also made prescription drugs more affordable for seniors. Previously, Medicare prescription drug users faced high costs when they reached the so-called “doughnut hole,” which left a big gap in their prescription drug benefits. The Affordable Care Act provided a $250 rebate in 2010 to temporarily provide some help to seniors who hit the doughnut hole, and more than 90,000 Michigan seniors took advantage. Last year, seniors in the doughnut hole got a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs, and that provision saved Michigan seniors nearly $50 million in drug costs. Under the Affordable Care Act, the doughnut hole will disappear altogether in 2020.
The law also required insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of the revenue they receive from insurance premiums