Health Care Reform has been a hot topic this year and particularly as the end of 2013 approaches. Many of us are in the position of trying to navigate through our health care options in time to meet the coming deadlines for coverage. We addressed some of the many questions and concerns affecting us during our Protected Tomorrows hosted webinar on November 19, Understanding Health Care Reform —The Basics, featuring guest speaker Melissa Akinlawon from EverThrive of Chicago, Illinois. We gained great insight into what the average consumer needs to know about health care reform.
The Affordable Care Act puts in place comprehensive reforms that ensure that all insurance is high quality, protects consumers from insurance industry practices which limit access to coverage and improves access to affordable health coverage.
If you are already insured, the the only changes that you will see are new benefits, better consumer protections, and more value for every dollar that you spend on care. “If you like your plan, you can keep it and don’t need to do anything differently,” said Melissa.
If you are uninsured, new pathways to coverage will make it easier than ever to get covered and stay covered. Financial assistance through tax credits will be available to guarantee that you can pay for coverage. Young people can stay on their parent’s insurance until 26 or longer in some circumstances. Preventive services must be covered without cost sharing including immunizations, cancer screening, smoking cessation and a host of women specific provisions. This applies to most private health insurance plans and Medicare Part B.
Speaking of Medicare, the biggest change for individuals who already receive Medicare is that the donut hole coverage gap will be decreasing over time and eventually disappear by 2020.
The Kaiser Foundation has a very helpful website that addresses ACA frequently asked questions, http://kff.org/health-reform/faq/health-reform-frequently-asked-questions/
All of this sounds great but we are learning that purchasing insurance is not as easy as a couple of clicks on a website. You need to shop for plans. There are many different plans available. Plans will be divided into four different types: bronze, silver, gold and platinum — varying based on the size of their deductibles, copayments and other consumer cost-sharing. You need to compare plans and costs side by side to determine which best fits your individual needs.
Choosing the right plan and navigating the new websites is not a simple task for the average consumer. It is recommended that you purchase your insurance with the help of a licensed insurance agent. Getting the assistance of an agent versus going directly to the website has been compared to going to see your doctor or sitting in a room with a bunch of medical books and equipment. You can locate an agent by going to http://www.nahu.org/consumer/findagent2.cfm
More good news is that women cannot be charged higher for premiums simply because they are women. Only three things can affect your premium: where you live, your age, and whether you are a tobacco user. In addition, there are no lifetime limits on care.
Protected Tomorrows will host our next webinar, Purchasing Insurance in the Market, on January 8th at 12:00PM CST. We hope that you will join our webinar audience. Access information will be available on our website shortly or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.