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Friday, June 29, 2012

Op/Ed- 4 Facts about the Affordable Health Care Act

English: President Barack Obama's signature on...
English: President Barack Obama's signature on the health insurance reform bill at the White House, March 23, 2010. The President signed the bill with 22 different pens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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By Susan Wells:

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Recently, the Supreme Court announced a landmark decision, effectively ruling that President Obama's healthcare reform plan was considered constitutional and would stand.

While there's still the (very dim) possibility that the Act could be repealed in the event of former Mass. Governor Romney (R) winning the presidential election this year, we can largely assume that the provisions in the ACA will be put into effect 2014.

So what does the ACA mean for you? There are many myths surrounding the Supreme Court decision and the Act in general. Here's what you should know.

   1. You won't be forced to have healthcare insurance.

Contrary to popular opinion, you won't be forced to purchase insurance, because you won't be "penalized" for failure to do so. If you decide you'd rather not pay for health insurance, you'll be taxed not one penny above what you would pay had you bought insurance. Many taxes like this already exist. You won't be jailed or otherwise punished if you don't buy insurance. The government is merely incentivizing those who do purchase it. If you aren't covered through your employer, or you can't afford health insurance, the government will subsidize you.

    2. The federal government will not take over the insurance industry.

Another basic myth surrounding the ACA is that it represents the federal takeover of health insurance companies. The ACA is NOT universal health care coverage for all provided by the federal government. It's far from it. The ACA actually creates incentives for private health insurance companies to compete more and offer better quality, more affordable care. This will occur at the state level, not at the federal level. 

  3. Preventative care measures will be offered for free.

Perhaps one of the best parts about the ACA is that it will make sure that clinics offer standard screenings that prevent illness completely for free. Some of these screenings include immunizations, pap smears, colonoscopies, physicals, and more. 

   4. Insurers will be required to spend 80-85% of premium money on health care (instead of advertising, administrative fees, etc.) The remainder must be reimbursed to the insured. 

A perfect example of how the ACA will force health insurance companies to become more efficient, the above measure makes sure that insurance companies spend your dollars wisely. If insurance companies spend less than 80% of your dollars on something other than healthcare, they are required to send you a rebate. This measure is already in effect, and it's been estimated that patients will receive around 1.1 billion dollars in rebate money. 

Of course, this isn't to simplify the ACA, and we'll have no idea how the ACA works until it actually goes into effect. If things go as planned, then more and more of us will have greater access to cheaper and better insurance. That's surely something to celebrate!

Susan is a freelance blogger who enjoys writing about automotive and health news, technology, lifestyle and personal finance. She often researches and writes about automobile, property and health insurance, helping consumers find the best insurance quotes and protection available. Susan welcomes comments.

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