This section includes some of the primary ways the Affordable Care Act will impact health care and insurance in the United States through the Obama health care plan. These changes include:
This section addresses changes to public programs such as Medicaid and Indian Health Services. Under the health reform law, states are given the option to expand Medicaid eligibility and the range of covered services to a larger population. It also simplifies enrollment for The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This section also provides detail about medical care homes, a team-based approach in which primary care providers, families and patients work in partnership to treat chronic health conditions such as diabetes or obesity.
This section addresses methods for improving the quality and delivery of care. It details programs to help specific groups such as Medicare recipients and residents of rural communities and other underserved areas. Medicare reimbursement will shift from a fee-for-service system to one in which payments for services are based on quality of delivery. Doctors, nurses and hospitals will be given financial incentives to improve care and prevent medical errors. This section also explains how people with Medicare coverage will save money on prescriptions from closing the coverage gap called the “donut hole.”
This section of the Affordable Care Act provides solutions to reduce the frequency and severity of chronic illness, which is much less expensive to prevent or treat in its early stages than to manage over many years or decades. It lays out a strategy for disease prevention and health promotion and gives consumers the tools they need to find science-based nutrition information. To help older Americans reduce or avoid illness, the new health care law waives co-payments when these individuals receive prevention and wellness screenings.
Because prevention and wellness is a major focus of health reform, this section addresses programs to greatly increase the number of primary care physicians in family medicine, general internal medicine and general pediatrics. It also details incentives and support for physician assistants, nurses, mental health providers, dentists and public health professionals. These programs will promote training, recruitment and retention methods such as scholarships and assistance with repayment of student loans.
This section is dedicated to reducing fraud and abuse in programs funded and sponsored by the federal government by giving new authority to federal and state agencies. It includes requirements for physician-owned hospitals as well as guidelines for greater transparency and quality improvement of care at nursing homes. This includes a national program for background checks on direct care employees at long-term care facilities. It also encourages innovative programs that prevent and eliminate elder abuse and others that improve physician access to cutting-edge medical research.
This section addresses improving access to generic drugs and extending drug discounts to hospitals and communities that serve low-income patients. It explains programs specific to providing more affordable medicines for certain children’s hospitals, cancer hospitals, critical access and sole community hospitals and referral centers in rural communities.
This describes a proposal for a federally run program to finance long-term services and care to support individuals with disabilities. Individuals would pay for this insurance themselves on a voluntary basis. If they became disabled, they would receive daily cash benefits to help pay for care received in the home setting. No taxpayer funds would be used to pay for this insurance. This section of the Affordable Care Act was repealed in early 2013.
This section lists a number of new fees and taxes that would help to fund the programs mandated by the Affordable Care Act. These include taxes on insurance companies and plan administrators whose plans that exceed the limits set by the new law. It also includes limiting health FSA contributions and assessing fees from pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers and health insurance providers. This section also details raising the threshold for claiming medical expenses as a tax deduction.
The final section of the law includes a lengthy list of pilot programs for changing and improving health care delivery. Just a few examples include:
What is health care reform?
What if I can’t afford family coverage?
Will my Medicare benefits change under health care reform?
As of January 1, 2014, almost everyone is required to have health insurance. You can learn about and shop for health insurance plans using the Health Insurance Exchange website, which went live in October 2013.