What Happens Next? A Timeline of Healthcare Provisions
The Affordable Care Act introduces new programs and insurance reforms aimed at giving millions of Americans access to affordable healthcare coverage. Signed into law in 2010, the bill contains over 90 separate provisions that are in place to take effect by 2014.
So when do changes take place and what laws are already in effect? Read on to learn more about healthcare reform and how the new rules will affect you.
Laws Already in Effect
A number of provisions of the Affordable Care Act are already in effect to help increase access to healthcare and cut down on insurance abuse and fraud.
- Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Adults with pre-existing conditions have the option of entering a federally subsidized high-risk pool to obtain coverage.
- Many preventative services must now be covered free of charge through the Affordable Care Act. These include services such as blood pressure screenings, and cancer prevention exams like mammograms and colonoscopies.
- It is now illegal for health insurance companies to place lifetime limits on insurance plans. Companies are also prohibited from dropping coverage when a patient gets sick as a way to avoid covering the cost of their enrollees’ needs.
- Small businesses can take advantage of a tax credit for up to 35 percent of the total contribution they provide to their employees’ health care insurance.
- Young adults can now stay on their parents’ healthcare plan until they reach the age of 26.
- Seniors on Medicare who have hit the gap in prescription drug coverage known as the “donut hole” can receive a 50 percent discount when purchasing brand name drugs with their Medicare Part D plan.
- Over $15 billion has been set aside for various disease and illness prevention programs, like those that help people quit smoking or assist with fighting childhood obesity.
- The law requires that insurance companies spend 85 percent of premium payments on healthcare in an effort to curb administrative costs, which often lead to rises in premiums. Companies that want to raise premiums must justify their price increases or risk being barred from health insurance exchanges in 2014.
Coming in 2012
In June, the Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling on the constitutionality of the healthcare reform bill. The decision will revolve around the individual mandate – the portion of the law that requires you to purchase a health insurance plan. The justices’ ruling could significantly change how healthcare reform is implemented; or could kill the legislation altogether.
Coming in 2013
A number of tax measures will be coming next year that will help pave the way for government-run health exchanges.
- Companies can no longer claim tax deductions for subsidizing their employees’ Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.
- Those earning over $200,000 (or $250,000 for joint filing) will see a 0.9 percent hospital insurance tax added to their bill.
- A 2.9 percent tax increase will be implemented on medical devices. Items that are usually used by individuals, like contacts and eyeglasses, are exempt from this tax.
Coming in 2014
A second wave of major changes to the healthcare system will take place in 2014. These changes include the implementation of the individual mandate and the creation of health insurance exchanges.
- Beginning in 2014, you must carry health insurance or you will face a penalty fine. Penalties increase each year starting at $95 in 2013, to $325 in 2015 and $695 in 2016. After 2016, penalty fees will increase based on market rates as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
- Businesses with more than 50 employees must also offer coverage to their workers or incur a penalty of $2,000 per person. If a company employs someone who is receiving healthcare tax credits, they will be charged $3,000 for each worker that is receiving a credit.
- If your place of business does not cover your health insurance, you have the option to purchase coverage through a government-run health exchange. The exchanges are run like a marketplace – depending on which state you live in, you will have a choice of plans to compare and choose from when purchasing insurance.
- Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition.
- Medicaid will be expanded to cover individuals and families that fall below the federal poverty line. Families that earn less that $29,000 a year and people that earn below $14,000 a year will qualify for Medicaid.
- Small business tax credits will be increased to up to 50 percent of the total contribution made toward health insurance for employees.
Coming in 2018
In 2018, taxes will be imposed on high-cost health insurance plans that are provided by your place of work. Also known as "Cadillac" plans, taxes will apply to policies that exceed $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage.
The Affordable Care Act is certainly no easy read. But stick with us as we continue to lay out the details of the Act, as well as the impact it may have on you and your family.
"The Affordable Care Act - Implementation Timeline." The White House. 2010. Web. 21 May 2012. <http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform/timeline>.
"Implementation Timeline - Kaiser Health Reform." Implementation Timeline - Kaiser Health Reform. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Web. 21 May 2012. <http://healthreform.kff.org/timeline.aspx>.
"Timeline of the Affordable Care Act: What's Changing and When." Healthcare.gov. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Web. 21 May 2012. <http://www.healthcare.gov/law/timeline/>.
"Preventive Services Covered Under the Affordable Care Act." Healthcare.gov. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Web. 21 May 2012. <http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2010/07/preventive-services-list.html>.
"Timeline: When Health Care Reform Will Affect You." CNN. 23 Mar. 2010. Web. 21 May 2012. <http://articles.cnn.com/2010-03-23/politics/health.care.timeline_1_prescription-drug-plan-health-care-doughnut-hole/3?_s=PM:POLITICS>.
Gardner, Amy. "Supreme Court’s Health-care Ruling Could Deal Dramatic Blow to Obama Presidency." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 29 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 May 2012. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/supreme-courts-health-care-ruling-could-deal-dramatic-blow-to-obama-presidency/2012/03/28/gIQAfpBYhS_story.html>.