Benefits Of The Affordable Care Act

No one plans to get sick or have an accident - but it happens everyday, unfortunately. Having health insurance coverage is extremely important and the Affordable Care Act  (ACA) was designed to provide coverage for millions of Americans who have not been able to afford it in the past. Since passed in 2010, the ACA is already improving and saving lives in Florida and even more benefits are set to take place in 2014. Even if you already have private insurance, the ACA helps health care work better for all. It cracks down on insurance company abuses, ends runaway premiums, provides affordable options for working families, extends help to small businesses, provides financial security and stability and expands coverage in order to save lives and improve the quality of life for all.

See below for even more benefits that will continue to roll in as the next stages of the Affordable Care Act are implemented through 2014.

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THE KEYS TO 2014 HEALTH CARE REFORMS:

THE CREATION OF A HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE (or "MARKETPLACE") AND MEDICAID EXPANSION

What is a Health Insurance Marketplace? Health insurance marketplaces are designed to give consumers and small businesses more control, quality choices and better protections when buying insurance. It brings real competition and greater transparency to the insurance industry. The online marketplace will help low and middle-income Floridians qualify for ACA tax credits that will ensure that good coverage is also affordable coverage. The marketplaces will be closely monitored to prevent fraud and protect consumers, and members of Congress will be required to get their insurance through this marketplace—giving them the same options as millions of Americans. Click here to make sure your family and (or) small business are prepared to enroll, which begins in October of 2013.

How does it work? The health insurance marketplace is an online system for Floridians and small businesses to compare, choose and purchase high-quality private health insurance. Coverage in the marketplace will be made affordable to families between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($19K - 76K for a family of three) through tax credits that lower premiums and subsidies to reduce out-of-pocket costs. Click here to learn how the marketplace will work for you, your family and (or) your small business!

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 MEDICAID EXPANSION.  Medicaid does not currently cover many low-income, working adults. A key piece of the the Affordable Care Act is the expansion of Medicaid to nearly all individuals with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level in 2014.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, by 2016, Medicaid, along with the Children's Health Insurance Program, will cover an additional 17 million individuals, mostly low-income adults, leading to greater coverage of American citizens. In Florida alone, 1.2 million uninsured Floridians will become eligible under the extension and 65,000 new jobs will be created in the first six years. Click here to find out more about who will benefit from this extension of coverage and here for an easy-to-understand infographic on how broadening coverage will spur Florida's economy. For additional information on how accepting the federal Medicaid dollars (100% for the first three years and 90% thereafter) will provide vital health care services to low-income Floridians, click here.

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KIDS.  Child advocates celebrate the big wins that the Affordable Care Act means for kids nationwide. One big benefit for Florida's children so far? 960,000 kids under 19 in Florida can no longer be denied for pre-existing medical conditions. To find out more about the many ways that the Affordable Care Act will help your children, click here to read a report from First Focus Campaign for Children. Though there is progress to embrace, there is much work to be done. In Florida alone, there are over 500,000 uninsured children. To find out more information about how kids currently access health care in Florida, and the new benefits that will become available in 2014, click here to consult the Florida's Kidcare Toolbox. 

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YOUNG ADULTS.  Young adults under 26 years of age have the option stay on their parents' insurance. By allowing young adults to stay on a parent's plan, the law makes it easier and more affordable for young people to get health insurance coverage and to mitigate young adults' struggles.  160,000 uninsured young adults in Florida are now covered by their parents.

For more young adult coverage information  provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, click here. 

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WOMEN.  Obamacare creates substantially important new steps forward for women's health, including prohibiting sex discrimination in health care. Women stand to gain a wide range of preventative services with no cost sharing, such as co-pays, deductibles, or co-insurance. 2,489,759 women will gain access to birth control with no copay next year on top of existing coverage.

Click here to read the National Women's Law Center fact sheet, Reform Matters: What Health Reform Mean for Women in Florida. 

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SENIORS.  Seniors win big with Obamacare.  Your exisiting Medicare benefits and ability to choose your own doctor will be preserved.  238,362 received average rebate of $596 on prescription drugs. By 2020, the so-called 'donut hole' prescription drug coverage gap will be closed. Medicare will be strengthened and the Medicare Trust Fund will be extended as a result of cutting waste, fraud and abuse in the current system.

For more information about seniors and the Affordable Care Act, click here for more information provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

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LATINO COMMUNITY.  32% of Latinos were uninsured in 2009 - higher than any other racial or ethnic group and half did not have a regular doctor.  The ACA will help reduce these health care disparities and help deliver affordable quality coverage to as many as 9 million currently uninsured, eligible Latinos.  It is also important to note that without adequate access to Medicaid, the uninsured numbers of Latinos would jump substantially past the current rate of 32 percent.

For more information, click here for a brochure from the National Council of La Raza, "La Reforma de Salud y Tu - Como ayudara a tu familia? 

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SMALL BUSINESS.  Small businesses get tax credits for covering employees. Obamacare will help small businesses that often lack the purchasing power that larger employees have to cover their employees.    The total value of tax credits available to eligible small businesses for 2011 is more than $15.4 billion, an average of $800 per worker. The ability to shop for insurance in a state exchange will also significantly help small businesses with under 100 employees.  

Click here for more information provided by the U.S. Depatrtment of Health and Human Services about Small Businesses and the Affordable Care Act. Click on our Stories page to meet local small business owners in Florida who are getting tax credits for covering their employees thanks to Obamacare. 

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PREVENTATIVE CARE.  Avoiding illness and improving your health is better than figuring out how to get better once you are sick. 4,700,000 more Floridians have access to free preventative care services.

Click here to read the long list of free preventative services covered under the Affordable Care Act, such as disease screenings, immunization vaccines, counseling and much more.

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STOPS WORST INSURANCE INDUSTRY ABUSES.  Obamacare helps put patients and providers over insurance company profits. Insurance companies can no longer cancel your coverage when you get sick or set lifetime coverage caps that leave you without health care in times of catastrophic need. Insurers will have to spend 80% of premium dollars on patient care and quality impprovements or they will have to provide a rebate to you. Just two years since the Affordable Care Act was passed, already 5,600,000 Floridians are no longer capped for their health insurance limits.

For more information about how the Affordable Care Act curbs insurance industry abuses, click here for more information provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

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Data Sources:  Health and Human Services (HHS)  *  Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)  *  Assistant Secretary for Planning & Evaluation (ASPE)  *  Current Popn. Survey- Annual Social & Economic Supplement (CPS-ASEC)  *  Small Business Majority