A Shot in the Arm

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Like many of you, I was annoyed bit my nails all through the health care reform battle. While I took a hard line last summer and implored President Obama not to sign a bill that didn’t include the public option, being an optimist now places me firmly in the camp of “something is better than nothing.” So yay for some progress! Anyway, in the days since he signed the bill, several folks have called to ask me questions about what will really change. The best way to figure out exactly what the reform means for you is to use the tool on WhiteHouse.gov. Just pick your current insurance status out of the short list, and read the FAQs that pertain to your situation.

The most pressing info, of course, is the time line for reform. Check it out here. Here are the highlights of what you can expect to see happen this year; use them to inform yourself (and the idiot in line behind you at the grocery store):

Free Preventive Care Under New Private Plans: All new plans will cover preventive services, and you won’t have to make a co-pay. Starts in September.

You Cannot Be Dropped When You Get Sick: ’Nuff said. Starts in September.

Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions: If companies won’t cover you—or a particular pre-existing ailment—you can join the high-risk pool. Your premiums will likely be a bit higher, but you’ll still be insured. Goes into effect this year; in 2014 you’ll be eligible for same insurance as everyone else.

You Can Stay on Your Parents’ Insurance: You’ll now be able to mooch off your parent’s insurance until you turn 26. Goes into effect in September.

Regulates (Then Bans) Restrictive Annual Limits on Coverage: In six months, restrictions will be placed on insurance companies’ ability to limit your access to care for any given year. This practice will be banned in 2014.

Bans Lifetime Limits on Coverage: No more lifetime caps on your coverage. Will be effective in September.

Prohibits Discrimination Based on Salary: Lower-paid folks can get the same coverage as the folks at the top of the totem pole in September.

We might not have gotten everything we want or need, but as someone who has to buy her own insurance, I appreciate the progress. What does healthcare reform change for you and yours?


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