Previously, I provided some basic information about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Today Ill give more in-depth information about the law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014. But, starting as early as October in three months the Marketplace will open.
Here in Kansas, the law will directly impact more than 365,000 who currently are without insurance. Other specifics to Kansans include:
Providing dependent coverage to age 26 will benefit more than 25,000 young Kansas adults (they may stay on their parents insurance until they are 26);
Prescription drug discounts will save $14 million for Kansans, an average of $615 per person;
Rebates from insurance companies will total more than $4 million;
A reinsurance program for retirees will affect employees at more than 60 Kansas companies;
Federal funding for public and private Kansas recipients will exceed $90 million.
The Affordable Care Act makes it illegal for insurance companies to:
Deny coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition like asthma or diabetes (on Jan. 1, 2014 this applies to adults, too);
Put a lifetime limit on how much care they will pay for if you get sick; or
Cancel your coverage when you get sick by finding a mistake on your paperwork.
If you currently have insurance through your employer or private market, you can remain on your current plan, or you can access the Health Insurance Marketplace to compare your options beginning in October. If you choose a new plan through the Marketplace, those benefits would begin in 2014.
Children and adults enrolled in KanCare will remain eligible for benefits. There is the possibility that eligibility for KanCare will be expanded to include adults with incomes higher than the current requirements. Lower-income legal residents without insurance will be eligible for financial assistance to help pay for insurance through the Marketplace. If KanCare expands, they may be eligible for that Medicaid program instead.
Additional highlights of the ACA include:
Companies will be able to make insurance more affordable because there is a larger pool, or marketplace.
Many preventive services such as mammograms, vaccinations, blood pressure screening, tobacco cessation counseling and more will be available for free.
Differences in premiums will be based on smoking status, region of the country and some differences allowed for age.
Women no longer will be charged more for insurance than men.
Insurance companies must spend 80 cents of the premium dollar on the consumers health care. Previously, companies were required to spend just 40 cents on the dollar.
Open enrollment for insurance coverage begins in October and, for the first year, extends through March 31, 2014.
K-State Research and Extension agents and staff throughout the state will be trained to help residents in their county navigate the changing health care landscape and the choices they will need to make. Locally, there will be information available at both the Lyndon and Ottawa offices, as well as additional information, workshops, etc., as it becomes available.
Rebecca McFarland is the family and consumer sciences extension agent for Frontier Extension District No. 11, which serves Franklin County. For more information, call her at (785) 229-3520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org