Health Care Reform Timeline
The new health care law — called the Affordable Care Act — was passed in 2010. The law is changing the way some Americans get health coverage. Some changes are happening now. The biggest change for consumers comes in 2014, when almost everyone in the U.S. will be required to have health insurance.
- Some insurance plans are "grandfathered" — meaning they existed before the law was passed and so may not include all the benefit changes from the new health care law. If you hear about new insurance benefits coming with the changes, but your plan doesn't offer them, you may be in a grandfathered health plan.
- Young adults can now stay on their parent's health plan up to age 26. Most limits to keeping your young adult son or daughter on your coverage are removed, meaning they don't have to be a full-time student, live with you, be disabled or be a tax dependent.
- Prevention comes with no out-of-pocket cost. Other than health plans that are grandfathered, insurance will cover a long list of preventive health services, such as mammograms and cholesterol screenings. In most cases the preventive care will be paid in full by your premium, meaning you won't have to pay a copay, coinsurance or deductible.
- Health coverage is available for all kids, even those with pre-existing conditions. Previously, the pre-existing condition exclusions applied to all ages.
- Insurance coverage won't have dollar limits on the health care covered in your lifetime. Health plans won't have dollar limits on the care covered in a single year. Your health plan won't limit the dollar amount it will pay for coverage of essential health benefits within a year or over the lifetime of your plan.
- Adults who have been uninsured for at least 6 months and have been denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition may now get coverage through the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan.
- Those in the Medicare Part D "donut hole" get a 50% discount on name-brand prescription drugs and a 7% discount on generic prescription drugs. Over the next few years, the donut hole will gradually close so that there is no longer a gap in pharmacy benefits.
Down the Road
- Most people will be able to get insurance coverage, even someone with a pre-existing condition. People who have a health condition (an illness or pregnancy) or who are at higher than average risk of needing medical care, may have difficulty getting insurance, may pay more for insurance or get coverage that excludes the condition if it is pre-existing. In 2014, you'll be able to get insurance coverage, and it will include coverage of your pre-existing health condition.
- Health plans will include more benefits considered essential to good health. Beginning in 2014, most insurance plans you can choose from — whether you buy on the exchange or go directly to the insurance company of your choice — will include many benefits that are meant to make sure basic health concerns are covered.
- You'll be required to purchase health insurance if you don't already have it — and depending on your income, you may get help paying for it.
- You'll have more ways to get coverage. In 2014, there will be a new way to buy health insurance online. Beginning in October, you'll be able to compare and enroll in insurance plans available in your area using the online exchange. You can compare all your insurance options based on price, benefits, quality and other features that may be important to you, in plain language that makes sense. And, you may be able to get a new kind of tax credit that lowers your monthly premium.
- The Medicaid program will be expanded in some states to allow more people to qualify for the program.