Affordable Care Act
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or "Obamacare", enacted in to law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, marks a significant change in the health care delivery model in the United States.
Goals of Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
The ACA was enacted with the goals of increasing the quality and affordability of health insurance, lowering the uninsured rate by expanding public and private insurance coverage, and reducing the costs of healthcare for individuals and the government. It introduced a number of mechanisms—including mandates, subsidies, and insurance exchanges—meant to increase coverage and affordability. The law also requires insurance companies to cover all applicants within new minimum standards and offer the same rates regardless of pre-existing conditions or sex. Additional reforms aimed to reduce costs and improve healthcare outcomes by shifting the system towards quality over quantity through increased competition, regulation, and incentives to streamline the delivery of healthcare. The Congressional Budget Office projected that the ACA will lower both future deficits and Medicare spending.
Provisions of Affordable Care Act
The ACA includes numerous provisions that take effect between 2010 and 2020. Policies issued before 2010 are exempted by a grandfather clause from many of the changes to insurance standards, but they are affected by other provisions. Significant reforms, most of which took effect on January 1, 2014, include: Guaranteed issue prohibits insurers from denying coverage to individuals due to pre-existing conditions, and a partial community rating requires insurers to offer the same premium price to all applicants of the same age and geographical location without regard to gender or most pre-existing conditions (excluding tobacco use). Minimum standards for health insurance policies are established.
Individual mandate of Affordable Care Act
An individual mandate requires all individuals not covered by an employer sponsored health plan, Medicaid, Medicare or other public insurance programs (such as Tricare) to secure an approved private-insurance policy or pay a penalty, unless the applicable individual has a financial hardship or is a member of a recognized religious sect exempted by the Internal Revenue Service. The law includes subsidies to help people with low incomes comply with the mandate.
What’s causing your weight gain?
- Up to 70 percent of the population in the United States deals with being overweight or obese
- 35 percent of all adults, according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are prediabetic and have significant insulin resistance while another 36 percent have some signs of insulin resistance
- Diabetes has increased by over 500 percent in the last 50 years or so and now affects 8 percent of the population.
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Health insurance exchanges
Health insurance exchanges will commence operation in every state. Each exchange will serve as an online marketplace where individuals and small businesses can compare policies and buy insurance (with a government subsidy if eligible). In the first year of operation, open enrollment on the exchanges runs from October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014. The original purchase deadline date to be covered for January 1, 2014 was December 15, 2013, but the deadline was pushed back, first to December 23, 2013 and later to December 24, 2013. In subsequent years, open enrollment will start on October 15 and end on December 7.
Federal subsidies for health insurance under Obamacare
Low-income individuals and families whose incomes are between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level will receive federal subsidies on a sliding scale if they purchase insurance via an exchange. Those from 133% to 150% of the poverty level will be subsidized such that their premium costs will be 3% to 4% of income. In 2013, the subsidy would apply for incomes up to $45,960 for an individual or $94,200 for a family of four; consumers can choose to receive their tax credits in advance, and the exchange will send the money directly to the insurer every month.Small businesses will be eligible for subsidies.
Medicaid and Obamacare
Medicaid eligibility expanded to include individuals and families with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level, including adults without disabilities and without dependent children. The law also provides for a 5% "income disregard", making the effective income eligibility limit for Medicaid 138% of the poverty level. Furthermore, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment process is simplified. However, in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court ruled that states may opt out of the Medicaid expansion, and several have done so.
Medicare and Obamacare
Reforms to the Medicare payment system are meant to promote greater efficiency in the healthcare delivery system by restructuring Medicare reimbursements from fee-for-service to bundled payments. Under the new payment system, a single payment is paid to a hospital and a physician group for a defined episode of care (such as a hip replacement) rather than individual payments to individual service providers. In addition, it has been asserted that the Medicare Part D coverage gap (commonly called the "donut hole") will shrink incrementally, closing completely by January 1, 2020.
Businesses and Obamacare
Businesses which employ 50 or more people but do not offer health insurance to their full-time employees will pay a tax penalty if the government has subsidized a full-time employee's healthcare through tax deductions or other means. This is commonly known as the employer mandate. In July 2013, however, this provision was unilaterally delayed for one year by President Obama.
Preventive Benefits covered under Affordable Care Act with no copays or co-insurance for Men
Free preventive services
All Marketplace plans and many other plans must cover the following list of preventive services without charging you a copayment or coinsurance. This is true even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible. This applies only when these services are delivered by a network provider.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm one-time screening for men of specified ages who have ever smoked
- Alcohol Misuse screening and counseling
- Aspirin use to prevent cardiovascular disease for men and women of certain ages
- Blood Pressure screening for all adults
- Cholesterol screening for adults of certain ages or at higher risk
- Colorectal Cancer screening for adults over 50
- Depression screening for adults
- Type 2 diabetes screening for adults with high blood pressure
- Diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease
- HIV screening for everyone ages 15 to 65, and other ages at increased risk
- Immunization vaccines for adults--doses, recommended ages, and recommended populations vary:
- Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) prevention counseling for adults at higher risk
- Syphilis screening for all adults at higher risk
- Tobacco Use screening for all adults and cessation interventions for tobacco users
Obesity, overweight and weight loss coverage and Obamacare
Obesity screening and counseling for all adults is covered under Affordable Care Act of 2010 as obesity is considered preventable medical problem. Although most weight loss programs do not accept health insurance for medical weight loss, there are few exceptions such as the W8MD medical weight loss centers of America's physician weight loss programs.
Preventive health services for women
Most health plans must cover additional preventive health services for women, ensuring a comprehensive set of preventive services like breast cancer screenings to meet women’s unique health care needs.
Comprehensive coverage for women’s preventive care
All Marketplace health plans and many other plans must cover the following list of preventive services for women without charging you a copayment or coinsurance. This is true even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible.
This applies only when these services are delivered by an in-network provider.
- Anemia screening on a routine basis for pregnant women
- Breast Cancer Genetic Test Counseling (BRCA) for women at higher risk for breast cancer
- Breast Cancer Mammography screenings every 1 to 2 years for women over 40
- Breast Cancer Chemoprevention counseling for women at higher risk
- Breastfeeding comprehensive support and counseling from trained providers, and access to breastfeeding supplies, for pregnant and nursing women
- Cervical Cancer screening for sexually active women
- Chlamydia Infection screening for younger women and other women at higher risk
- Contraception: Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling, as prescribed by a health care provider for women with reproductive capacity (not including abortifacient drugs). This does not apply to health plans sponsored by certain exempt “religious employers.”
- Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling for all women
- Folic Acid supplements for women who may become pregnant
- Gestational diabetes screening for women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant and those at high risk of developing gestational diabetes
- Gonorrhea screening for all women at higher risk
- Hepatitis B screening for pregnant women at their first prenatal visit
- HIV screening and counseling for sexually active women
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) DNA Test every 3 years for women with normal cytology results who are 30 or older
- Osteoporosis screening for women over age 60 depending on risk factors
- Rh Incompatibility screening for all pregnant women and follow-up testing for women at higher risk
- Sexually Transmitted Infections counseling for sexually active women
- Syphilis screening for all pregnant women or other women at increased risk
- Tobacco Use screening and interventions for all women, and expanded counseling for pregnant tobacco users
- Urinary tract or other infection screening for pregnant women
- Well-woman visits to get recommended services for women under 65
Preventive health services for children
Most health plans must cover a set of preventive health services for children at no cost when delivered by an in-network provider. This includes Marketplace and Medicaid coverage.
Coverage for children’s preventive health services
All Marketplace health plans and many other plans must cover the following list of preventive services for children without charging you a copayment or coinsurance. This is true even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible.
- Autism screening for children at 18 and 24 months
- Behavioral assessments for children at the following ages: 0 to 11 months, 1 to 4 years, 5 to 10 years, 11 to 14 years, 15 to 17 years.
- Blood Pressure screening for children at the following ages: 0 to 11 months, 1 to 4 years , 5 to 10 years, 11 to 14 years, 15 to 17 years.
- Cervical Dysplasia screening for sexually active females
- Depression screening for adolescents
- Developmental screening for children under age 3
- Dyslipidemia screening for children at higher risk of lipid disorders at the following ages: 1 to 4 years, 5 to 10 years, 11 to 14 years, 15 to 17 years.
- Fluoride Chemoprevention supplements for children without fluoride in their water source
- Gonorrhea preventive medication for the eyes of all newborns
- Hearing screening for all newborns
- Height, Weight and Body Mass Index measurements for children at the following ages: 0 to 11 months, 1 to 4 years, 5 to 10 years, 11 to 14 years, 15 to 17 years.
- Hematocrit or Hemoglobin screening for children
- Hemoglobinopathies or sickle cell screening for newborns
- HIV screening for adolescents at higher risk
- **Hypothyroidism screening for newborns
- Immunization vaccines for children from birth to age 18 —doses, recommended ages, and recommended populations vary:
- Iron supplements for children ages 6 to 12 months at risk for anemia
- Lead screening for children at risk of exposure
- Medical History for all children throughout development at the following ages: 0 to 11 months, 1 to 4 years , 5 to 10 years ,11 to 14 years , 15 to 17 years.
- Obesity screening and counseling
- Oral Health risk assessment for young children Ages: 0 to 11 months, 1 to 4 years, 5 to 10 years.
- Phenylketonuria (PKU) screening for this genetic disorder in newborns
- Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) prevention counseling and screening for adolescents at higher risk
- Tuberculin testing for children at higher risk of tuberculosis at the following ages: 0 to 11 months, 1 to 4 years, 5 to 10 years,11 to 14 years, 15 to 17 years.
- Vision screening for all children.
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