A bid to offer health insurance to an estimated 32 million Americans who are uninsured and improve the coverage of those with insurance was signed today by our President.
At an estimated cost of $940 billion over 10 years, supported in part by additional taxes on the wealthiest Americans, the legislation is projected to offer coverage to some 32 million uninsured people.
This bill would require most individuals to buy health insurance, offer federal subsidies to help pay premiums, impose penalties on employers that don't offer affordable polices and create a new insurance marketplace of exchanges for people with employer-supported coverage.
The law will take effect gradually. A series of modest changes kicks in this year — tax credits to help small businesses purchase insurance for their employees, a $250 prescription drug rebate for seniors on Medicare who have hit a gap in their coverage, and a ban on excluding children from coverage because of preexisting conditions.
In addition, insurers would be prevented from denying coverage based on preexisting medical conditions or setting any lifetime cap on the benefits that they pay. Young adults also will be allowed to remain on their parents' plans longer, until they are 27 years old.
Next year, senior citizens enrolled in Medicare Advantage programs could face reductions. These programs provide private coverage through Medicare and have become very popular because they tend to be less expensive than the combination of Medicare prescription coverage and Medigap policies, which supplement Medicare.
Federal reimbursement for such programs will freeze in 2012, and insurers warn that they would have to reduce benefits, and that some plans will eventually disappear.
Democrats and Obama plan to devote the next few months to making sure consumers understand its benefits - immediate (insurance regulation) and in the future (insurance purchasing exchanges); concrete (closing the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage) and abstract (sense of security).
The least popular tax in the bill, a 40 percent levy on high-cost health insurance plans, will not take effect until 2018.
After reading site after site, I am still trying to make my mind up about this whole thing. I am not for bigger government and yet I know something has to be done with our health insurance system. I am not sure the government can help. I cannot say of too many things that the government does better than the American people. I will be watching and waiting to see how this all plays out.
**I have taken clips of different paragraphs from articles to help piece all this together. These are not all my own words. Just wanted to make that clear.