Letter: Answering questions about health care reform package
Because I have received countless calls regarding the reform package, I would like to share the following timelines of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Starting right now -- small businesses will get a tax cut to help them pay for health insurance for their employees. Companies will get a credit up to 35 percent of the money they spend on premiums. Those credits will increase over time, eventually reaching 50 percent when the Insurance Exchanges go into effect. The full credit is available to small firms with 10 or fewer employees, and firms with up to 25 employees will qualify for a partial credit.
In the next five years, $11 billion will be spent expanding access to health centers to 25 million more people.
Any senior who is affected by the so-called "doughnut hole" will qualify for a $250 rebate to help them pay for their prescription medicines.
In three months -- people with pre-existing conditions will be able to get help with a special fund set up to cover the gap until the Insurance Exchanges are up and running.
Retiree health plans qualify for a new federal reinsurance program for health plans covering early retirees (age 55-64) to bring down costs for businesses and lower premiums.
In six months -- all health plans will be prohibited from denying coverage or care to children because of pre-existing conditions. This protection will apply to everyone when the Insurance Exchanges are up and running.
All health plans will be required to allow young adults to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26.
All new health plans will be required to provide free preventive care with no co-pays or deductibles.
All health plans will be prohibited from canceling coverage when a patient reaches a lifetime limit on coverage.
All health plans will be prohibited from canceling coverage if a patient gets sick or if they file too many claims.
All new health plans will be required to allow consumers to appeal insurance company denials of coverage and get an independent review of their case.
All new health plans will be required to let you pick your own primary care doctor. Women will also be allowed to visit their ob-gyn without getting permission from their insurance company first, and all patients will be guaranteed access to emergency care.
I hope this answers a few questions.
District 36 Rep. Shirley Meyer, Dickinson