Saturday, June 22, 2013

ObamaCare for Mississippians I

What exactly is ObamaCare 
and how will it affect us in Mississippi?

ObamaCare (more formally known as the Affordable Care Act) had one very simple goal: provide affordable health care to all Americans. However, achieving that goal was anything but simple.

ObamaCare became law March 2010. It was upheld (with some exceptions) by the Supreme Court a year ago. A few months later, President Obama was reelected. So ObamaCare is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

ObamaCare is being phased in over several years, with the most significant changes coming next year. However, several provisions have already gone into effect, and Mississippians are already benefiting from them.
  • Mississippians covered by private insurance companies and Medicare* are receiving preventative care at no cost. Even though extra federal funds are available to states that provide no cost preventative care to Medicaid** recipients, Mississippi and most other states have not yet taken advantage of it. (The Supreme Court ruling allows states to opt out of Medicaid** provisions.) Preventative care is defined by the US Preventative Task Force
  • Insurance companies can no longer refuse to cover children because of preexisting conditions. This protection will be extended to adults next year. Lifetime limits are prohibited, and annual limits are being phased out.
  • Insurance companies must spend 80% of premium dollars on health care - or provide rebates to their policy holders. Last year, 12.8 million insured people received $1.2 billion in rebates. This provision has already led to lower premiums.
  • Young adults without insurance through their work can stay on their parents' policies until age 26. 3.1 million more people have insurance because of this provision.
  • Medicare's* prescription drug coverage has a huge gap in coverage called the "doughnut hole". Increased savings are provided until 2020 when the gap will be closed. Seniors have already saved over $6 billion since 2010.

* Medicare is the health program for people 65 and over and is paid for by a payroll tax.
** Medicaid is the health program for people with limited incomes. It is run by the States, who determine who is eligible. The Federal Government provides matching funds depending on the poverty level of the state. Of course, Mississippi gets the highest percent (75+%). The lowest match is 50%, and several states qualify - Virginia is the only southern state.

Coming next: ObamaCare for Mississippians II: But how do we all get health coverage?

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