As we move into implementation of health care reform under the Affordable Care Act, it’s useful to see what services are being put into place between now and toward the end of the year.
1. Early retirees: This program provides financial assistance for employers, including large and small businesses, state and local governments, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and labor unions that will help retirees who are not eligible for Medicare continue to have access to coverage. Ironically, one of the first companies to enroll in this program was Koch Industries, who spent millions to defeat reform.
2. Increased funding for Community Health Centers: This will help fund clinics like the proposed expansion of the Columbia Health Center into Howard County.
3. Small business tax credits: Employers who have 25 or fewer employees earning less than $50,000 will be eligible for a 35 percent credit, which allows the business to offset costs or offer coverage for the first time.
4. High risk pool: People who have pre-existing conditions and cannot buy coverage can receive coverage through this.
5. Young adults: Parents may cover their children until age 26, helping to keep them insured until they can afford coverage or get it through employment.
6.Children: They can no longer be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. People using SCHIP may be able to cover their children on a family policy.
7. Insurance companies: They cannot rescind coverage when an individual gets sick, and they cannot impose lifetime caps on coverage. This is an often deceptive practice that is the leading cause of medical debt bankruptcy.
8. Preventative care: All new group and individual plans will be required to provide preventative care without co-pays.
9. Medicare: Provides rebates to beneficiaries who hit the Part D “doughnut hole.”
10. Premiums: Annual review of premium increases.
Jane Whitesides resides in Glasgow, Mo.