The Bill – Will It Help You? If So, When?

Posted in General by TBartine on March 23, 2010 No Comments yet

To be certain, both sides of the health care debate have done an excellent job of making sure that nobody knows what practical elements are in the newly-passed legislation.

There have been vast debates about the financial consequences, for the federal government, for businesses, and for individuals…and predictions regarding these consequences range from “doomsday scenario” to “big savings.”  People have debated over who deserves health care…with responses ranging from “only those who earn it” to “everyone, everywhere.“  People have actually debated when or not it is acceptable for certain things to be in the bill…that never WERE in the bill…a debate which fully meets the definition of a “complete distraction and waste of time.”

But now that the bill has passed, setting aside partisan debate, setting aside arguments over what sort of doom/paradise this will lead to, everyone should be asking the same question right now:  How will this bill affect me (and my family)?

Problem is, people have been so distracted by these “other conversations,” that they suddenly realize that they have no REAL idea what is in the bill…or when various items will take effect.

Well, courtesy of The Gavel, here’s the list of provisions that will take effect THIS YEAR…you be the judge of which may or may not have an effect on your life, or the lives of those close to you.  And yes, I know that The Gavel is Speaker Pelosi’s blog…that just means that, if the bill does not make good on these claims, we can hold her accountable for them:

“SMALL BUSINESS TAX CREDITS

Offers tax credits to small businesses to make employee coverage more affordable. Tax credits of up to 35 percent of premiums will be immediately available to firms that choose to offer coverage. Effective beginning for calendar year 2010. (Beginning in 2014, the small business tax credits will cover 50 percent of premiums.)

BEGINS TO CLOSE THE MEDICARE PART D DONUT HOLE

Provides a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole in 2010. Effective for calendar year 2010. (Beginning in 2011, institutes a 50% discount on brand-name drugs in the donut hole; also completely closes the donut hole by 2020.)

FREE PREVENTIVE CARE UNDER MEDICARE

Eliminates co-payments for preventive services and exempts preventive services from deductibles under the Medicare program. Effective beginning January 1, 2011.

HELP FOR EARLY RETIREES

Creates a temporary re-insurance program (until the Exchanges are available) to help offset the costs of expensive health claims for employers that provide health benefits for retirees age 55-64. Effective 90 days after enactment

ENDS RESCISSIONS

Bans insurance companies from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Effective 6 months after enactment.

NO DISCRIMINATION AGAINST CHILDREN WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

Prohibits health insurers from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Effective 6 months after enactment. (Beginning in 2014, this prohibition would apply to all persons.)

BANS LIFETIME LIMITS ON COVERAGE

Prohibits health insurance companies from placing lifetime caps on coverage. Effective 6 months after enactment.

BANS RESTRICTIVE ANNUAL LIMITS ON COVERAGE

Tightly restricts new plans’ use of annual limits to ensure access to needed care. These tight restrictions will be defined by HHS. Effective 6 months after enactment. (Beginning in 2014, the use of any annual limits would be prohibited for all plans.)

FREE PREVENTIVE CARE UNDER NEW PRIVATE PLANS

Requires new private plans to cover preventive services with no co-payments and with preventive services being exempt from deductibles. Effective 6 months after enactment. (Beginning in 2018, this requirement applies to all plans.)

NEW, INDEPENDENT APPEALS PROCESS

Ensures consumers in new plans have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal decisions by their health insurance plan. Effective 6 months after enactment.

ENSURING VALUE FOR PREMIUM PAYMENTS

Requires plans in the individual and small group market to spend 80 percent of premium dollars on medical services, and plans in the large group market to spend 85 percent. Insurers that do not meet these thresholds must provide rebates to policyholders. Effective on January 1, 2011.

IMMEDIATE HELP FOR THE UNINSURED UNTIL EXCHANGE IS AVAILABLE (INTERIM HIGH-RISK POOL)

Provides immediate access to insurance for Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition – through a temporary high-risk pool. Effective 90 days after enactment.

EXTENDS COVERAGE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE UP TO 26TH BIRTHDAY THROUGH PARENTS’ INSURANCE

Requires health plans to allow young people up to their 26th birthday to remain on their parents’ insurance policy, at the parents’ choice. Effective 6 months after enactment.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS

Increases funding for Community Health Centers to allow for nearly a doubling of the number of patients seen by the centers over the next 5 years. Effective beginning in fiscal year 2010.

INCREASING NUMBER OF PRIMARY CARE DOCTORS

Provides new investment in training programs to increase the number of primary care doctors, nurses, and public health professionals. Effective beginning in fiscal year 2010.

PROHIBITING DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SALARY

Prohibits new group health plans from establishing any eligibility rules for health care coverage that have the effect of discriminating in favor of higher wage employees. Effective 6 months after enactment.

HEALTH INSURANCE CONSUMER INFORMATION

Provides aid to states in establishing offices of health insurance consumer assistance in order to help individuals with the filing of complaints and appeals. Effective beginning in FY 2010.

CREATES NEW, VOLUNTARY, PUBLIC LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE PROGRAM

Creates a long-term care insurance program to be financed by voluntary payroll deductions to provide benefits to adults who become functionally disabled. Effective on January 1, 2011.

I’ll keep you updated as the information becomes available.