Affordable healthcare can now be a universal expectation for all Americans, thanks to the ground-breaking healthcare reform legislation signed into law this year. Millions more Americans will have access to affordable health insurance than ever before. Aptly dubbed the Affordable Care Act, this new law will expand coverage to 32 million Americans who do not currently have affordable health insurance, while reducing health care costs and improving the quality of care overall.
Sound too good to be true? Learn more about the basics of healthcare reform and see just how many benefits it stands to provide.
After a messy process that sent healthcare reform from the senate to the house and back again, the final piece of legislation signed into law by President Obama in 2010 includes a number of features, including:
• Holding insurance companies accountable by prohibiting the denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions or a newly diagnosed illness
• Lowering healthcare costs by making affordable health insurance available to more Americans and expanding preventative care coverage
• Providing a new Patient's Bill of Rights that offers recourse to patients who are denied coverage or have lifetime limits placed on their coverage
• Guaranteeing more choices in affordable health insurance through competitive markets known as exchanges and the elimination of pre-existing conditions clauses that restricted patient options in the past
• Making affordable health insurance available to more Americans through exchanges and tax credits for small businesses
This myriad of benefits will not be seen all in one felled swoop; instead, components of the law will be phased in gradually through 2014. Some of the provisions have already gone into effect (on September 23, 2010) so individuals are already seeing some of the advantages of healthcare reform in their own health plans.
Disparities in Health Care
One of the primary functions of healthcare reform will be to eliminate disparities that currently exist in our health care industry. The current health care structure keeps many low-income and underserved Americans from receiving quality health care when they need it. They do not currently have access to affordable health insurance, and if a medical problem arises, they don't have the cash to go to a doctor and pay the fees out of their own pocket. Consequently, this portion of the population tends to have higher rates of diseases and fewer treatment options.
By providing affordable health insurance to more Americans, this disparity will be greatly reduced. More Americans will have access to quality health care, thanks to increased coverage, more affordable options and government assistance. A healthier population means greater work productivity, fewer health care costs and a more robust country all around.
What about the Cost?
Plenty of information has been tossed around about the high cost of healthcare reform, instilling fear in many who do not understand how this piece of legislation fits within the federal budget. The fact is that healthcare reform will stabilize the national budget and economy by reducing the deficit by more than $100 billion over the next 10 years and another $1 trillion through the second decade. The savings will be seen through trimming the fat in Washington, cutting overspending, reining in fraud and eliminating waste.
With changes happening right now and more on the horizon, this is an exciting time for health care in this country. More Americans will finally have access to the high quality of health care that should be a basic right for everyone living in this country today.
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