Mar 23 2012

A WA view on the Affordable Care Act

Published by at 10:05 am under Washington

While the legal battles go on, the second year mark after passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare?) is also only about halfway through the process of its rollout.

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kriedler had this comment on it, worth running here at length:

The Affordable Care Act’s most controversial component – the mandate requiring everyone to have health insurance – is two years out. But two years after the law’s enactment, many Washington consumers are benefitting from less contentious reforms.

“The Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate gets most of the attention, but it shouldn’t overshadow the success stories of the early reforms,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “By far the most popular benefit of health reform that we hear about is the ability for parents to keep their adult kids on their health plans – especially in today’s economy – and there are many more.”

Washington consumers benefitting from the Affordable Care Act’s early reforms include:

More than 2.4 million people who no longer face lifetime caps on their health benefits.
More than 52,000 young adults up to age 26 who have stayed on their parents’ health plans.
More than 1.2 million people who now have coverage for preventive care with no co-pays or deductibles.
More than 60,000 people in Medicare who have saved hundreds on their prescription drugs.
Other reforms in force thanks to federal funds available under the Affordable Care Act include:

Creating public access to health insurance rate requests.
Establishing a new marketplace in Washington state for health insurance in 2014 – called an exchange – where people can shop for health plans, compare their options and apply for subsidies.
“If the opponents of health reform succeed in overturning the new law, what will they say to the nearly one million people in Washington without health insurance who get up every day hoping they don’t have a medical emergency?” said Kreidler. “The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it moves us in the right direction and is the only meaningful health reform that’s passed in decades.”

Kreidler added that most people in our state – 85 percent – already have health insurance and won’t be impacted by the individual mandate. And of those who are uninsured, 85 percent will qualify for either Medicaid or subsidies to purchase coverage in the new health exchange.

Additional reforms taking effect later this year:

Beginning Aug. 1, all health plans must cover free well visits, contraceptives, and other preventive services for women.
After Sept. 23, all health plans must provide consumers with easy to understand description of their coverage including deductibles, co-pays, as well as costs for using in-network and out-of-network medical services.

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