What does the Affordable Care Act do for me?
- As a Georgia citizen, you stand to benefit a great deal from the Affordable Care Act. Our state is one of the worst in the nation in many health areas- infant mortality, life expectancy, child obesity rates, and we have one of the largest number of uninsured residents in the nation. Simply put, Georgia will be a much healthier place to live, work and play once the Affordable Care Act takes full effect.
Some of these beneficial items are already in place. For example:
- Kids can continue to be covered by their parents’ health insurance until age 26. ( Citation: Page 15, sec. 2714 )
- Kids under the age of 19 can no longer be denied health insurance due to a pre-existing condition. ( Citation: Page 45, sec. 2704 and Page 57, sec. 1255 )
- Insurance companies can no longer drop your health coverage just because you become ill. ( Citation: Page 14, sec. 2712 )
- New health plans must provide preventative care (breast cancer screenings, most immunizations), with no charges or co-pays. ( Citation: Page 14, sec. 2713 )
- The Food and Drug Administration is allowed to approve more generic drugs that will inspire free-market competition between drug companies to lower the cost of prescriptions. ( Citation: An entire section of the bill, called Title VII, is devoted to this, starting on page 747 )
- People on Medicare will get increased rebates on many drugs, helping to keep the cost down. ( Citation: Page 216, sec. 2501 )
- People in the Medicare “Donut-Hole” will get a rebate to make up for the extra money they now spend. This “Donut-Hole” will be eliminated in 2020, saving hundreds of dollars for these Medicare patients.( Citation: Page 379, sec. 3301 )
- A limit is placed on just how much of a percentage of the money an insurer makes can be profit, to make sure they’re not price-gouging customers. ( Citation: Page 22, sec. 1101 )
- Chain restaurants now have to display the calories of their menu items. ( Citation: Page 499, sec. 4205)
- Eventually, all people with pre-existing conditions will be able to obtain health coverage. Until then, this bill creates a “high-risk pool” for these people so that they can obtain health insurance immediately at a higher rate until the “pre-existing conditions” rule is eliminated.( Citation: Page 30, sec. 1101, Page 45, sec. 2704, and Page 46, sec. 2702 )
- Insurance companies are forbidden from discriminating based on a disability. ( Citation: Page 47, sec. 2705 )
These things have already happened, but there are bigger changes on the way that will once again allow Georgians to lead healthier and longer lives.
In 2014, the biggest items take effect.
- All people with pre-existing conditions can be covered at the same rate as everyone else. Insurance companies can no longer deny you coverage based upon your previous health problems, and they can no longer charge you two or three (or 20) times more. ( Citation: Page 45, sec. 2704, Page 46, sec. 2701, and Page 57, sec. 1255 )
- If you already have insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, you won’t need to do anything different.
- If you don’t have insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, and cannot afford to purchase it, you will be eligible to get assistance. A family of four that makes less than $30,657 would be eligible for Medicaid. A family of four that made more than $30,657 but less than $92,200 would be eligible for tax credits to purchase insurance through an insurance exchange run by the state of Georgia.
- If you don’t have insurance, Medicare or Medicaid but make enough money to purchase it on your own, you’ll will be charged a fee if you refuse to purchase it. This requirement is important, as otherwise people might not purchase insurance until they get sick. You can choose not to get it, in which case you’ll pay a fee of $95 or 1% of your income, whichever is greater. (Citation: Page 145, sec. 5000A)
Does this hurt small businesses?
Absolutely not. A healthier work force means less time spent in hospitals or through sick days, which should improve everyone’s bottom line.
- Small businesses get additional tax credits for two years. (It looks like this is specifically for businesses with 25 or fewer employees) ( Citation: Page 138, sec. 1421 )
- Businesses with over 50 employees must offer health insurance to full-time employees or pay a penalty.
- Congress and Congressional staff will transition to this health insurance system as well. Rather than their Federal Insurance plan, they’ll use the same ones as everyone else. No longer will taxpayers foot the bill for Congress, now they’ll pay the same as you or I.( Citation: Page 81, sec. 1312 )
Is the Affordable Care Act too expensive?
Actually, the Affordable Care Act will save $210 billion a year once it is fully implemented, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. By the year 2021, the bill will actually have paid for itself and started bringing in more money than it costs.
Will I have to pay new taxes?
- If you make over $200,000 a year, your taxes go up 0.9%. ( Citation: Page 818, sec. 9015 )
- If you are a small business owner with more than 50 employees and refuse to get health coverage for your employees, you’ll have to pay a penalty.
- There is a new tax on pharmaceutical companies, and the purchase of medical devices.
The Affordable Care Act doesn’t have “death panels”, which many right-wing folks use to scare the public about the reforms. It doesn’t use taxpayer money for abortions, instead letting each state to figure out whether it wants to cover this on a state-by-state basis. It doesn’t give free insurance to illegal immigrants, and it doesn’t force you to change your insurance plans. If you are happy with your current health plan, that’s great! You won’t need to get a different plan or see a different doctor.
The Affordable Care Act is an important piece of legislation that strengthens Georgia’s health care system and provides common-sense solutions for you and your family. No longer will you have to worry about your health insurer dropping you because you get sick, or not covering your health payments simply because you’ve been sick before.
Please share this with your friends and family, and if you have any further questions about health care reform, send an email to “firstname.lastname@example.org”.