In March 2010, Congress passed milestone legislation calling for health care reform. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on March 23, 2010. Aimed at providing access to health insurance to millions of Americans currently lacking it, the legislation has not been without its critics. And on January 20, 2011 the House of Representatives voted to repeal the new law. It’s unlikely the repeal will be passed in the majority Democratic Senate, but the move signals dissatisfaction among many with the bill as written.
Currently, the bill’s standout feature is its requirement that all Americans purchase “minimal essential coverage” for themselves and their dependents or be forced to pay a substantial tax penalty. Individuals may purchase the insurance themselves or receive it through their employer. Individuals who qualify for financial aid would be eligible for a government subsidy based on a sliding scale. Essentially, this means those who make less would get a bigger subsidy than those nearer the top of the qualifying income level. Individuals who are self employed, unemployed or work for businesses that don’t offer insurance can shop for coverage via online health exchanges.
A popular feature of the new health care plan forbids insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals with preexisting conditions. This change will be phased in over time. Children with pre-existing conditions will be the first granted coverage under the new law.
Another feature of the new law affecting children is a provision allowing dependent children up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ family policy. Previously, states determined at what age children would no longer be covered under their parents’ insurance, and in many cases that was age 18.
Whether all these provisions will stand as the legislation continues to be debated remains to be seen. A number of resources can keep you abreast of changes to the new health care reform law. Some of those follow.
- Healthcare.gov is an official U.S. government site provides ongoing news and information about health care reform. It includes fact checking, videos, reports, forums and a newsroom.
- The White House’s own health care reform website provides additional information about the new law, including a Myths and Facts page.
- On its website, the American Association of Retired Persons breaks down how the new legislation will affect seniors.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration takes a look at the impact of health care reform on small businesses on its website.
CBS News personality Katie Couric examines provisions of the new health care reform law.