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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It’s Been One Year – Do You Know Where the Health Care Law Stands?

On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act, what we more commonly refer to as health care reform.

It has been at the center of intense controversy. Multiple states have filed lawsuits to try to block the law.

The U.S. House of Representatives repealed the law, but the repeal failed to get through the U.S. Senate.

All of this has created a lot of confusion among the public (as if the law wasn’t confusing enough at times all by itself). A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed that about half the country believes the law has been repealed or doesn’t know for sure.

Well, the law is still here and moving forward. Many provisions of the law are already in place. Here are some highlights:

  • Children up to age 26 may now be insured under a parent’s policy.
  • Some tax credits have been enacted to help small businesses afford health-care coverage for their employees.
  • Insurance companies can no longer deny insurance to children under 19 because of a pre-existing condition.
  • Insurance companies can no longer rescind – or cancel – a person’s health insurance when they get sick by looking for an error or technical mistake on the patient’s application.
  • Insurance companies must be able to justify premium increases.
  • About 4 million seniors who reached the gap in Medicare coverage known as the “donut hole” received a tax-free $250 rebate check.
  • Free preventive care under Medicare and under new private plans.

These are not all of the provisions enacted in 2010, but some of them. It will take until 2014 for the whole Affordable Care Act to roll out (except for the Medicare donut hole, which will take longer to close completely). We know you still have a lot of questions, and we are here to help.

WebMD’s health insurance expert Lisa Zamosky writes the Health Insurance Navigator blog twice a week to address your questions and explain some of the finer points of the industry.

WebMD’s Annic Jobin discussed the first year of the law — and what is still on its way – with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

This discussion is part of an ongoing collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the White House to help educate people about health care reform, from a recent roundtable panel to a WebMD-moderated town hall with Secretary Sebelius, where some of your questions were answered.

We also have a special section of our site devoted to answering your health care reform questions.

We consider it nothing less than our duty to help you understand this complex law, and we plan to continue providing more answers to your health care reform questions as the law rolls out.

Sean Swint
Executive Editor, WebMD

Posted by: Sean Swint at 5:36 pm

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