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What the Health Care Reform Bill Will Mean for You

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-10-04 (Revised/Updated 2011-01-25) - Information on some of the key provisions of the law and how they may impact the way you receive medical care - Mishkind Law Firm Co., L.P.A..

Main Document

The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act strives to eliminate wasteful spending on excess procedures and lower rates of infection, medical errors and hospital re-admittance.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act went into effect this past March. This important piece of legislation has the potential to impact the lives of every American, from the way they receive health care from their doctors to the types of coverages they receive from their insurers.

The main provisions of the health care reform bill strive not only to ensure that more than 90% of Americans have meaningful health insurance coverage, but also to fix some of the biggest problems facing the US health care system. These include wasteful spending on excess tests and procedures, unacceptable rates of infection and medical errors and high rates of hospital re-admittance.

Below you will find information on some of the key provisions of the law and how they may impact the way you receive medical care.

Changing the Delivery of Care

Care teams

The health care reform bill will impact the way patients interact with their physicians and other health care professionals. For example, a team of professionals, referred to as a "care team", will handle patient care. The members of the team will vary depending on the patient's circumstances, but may include nurse practitioners, physician assistants, specialists, nutritionists and others in addition to the patient's primary care physician. Many believe that a team approach can help cut down on medical errors because more than one person is responsible for overseeing the patient's care.

Electronic medical records

Requiring the use of electronic medical records is another way the health care reform bill may help reduce medical errors and improve patient care. Putting patient records in an electronic format will make it more accessible to members of the patient's care team and cut down on the time it takes to transfer records from one care facility to another, or even between physicians. Electronic records also can help eliminate the problem of ineligible handwriting and missing pages from a patient's file.

Improved treatments

As part of the Affordable Health Care Act, the federal government is funding research through the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute that will help physicians pinpoint the best, most efficient types of treatments for certain medical conditions. Once this research is complete and doctors begin using it in practice, it can help cut back on the number of unnecessary tests and treatments physicians may use to diagnose and treat a patient.

Focus on keeping patients healthy

The new health care law also hopes to re-orientate the practice of medicine from only helping those who are sick to keeping patients healthy. In practice, this may mean check-in calls from family practitioners to remind patients to come in for physicals and have other preventative treatments, like cancer screenings. It also may mean home visits from nurses after patients with serious illnesses and injuries have been discharged from the hospital.

New Insurance Rules

For 2010, the biggest changes under the health care reform bill will affect insurance coverages. These changes include:

-Insurers cannot deny coverage to children due to pre-existing condition

-No more lifetime caps on insurance coverage

-Coverage under employer-sponsored group policies will cover dependent children up to age 26

-Insurers will have to provide coverage for certain preventative measures, including screenings for high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes and sexually transmitted diseases; colonoscopies and smoking cessation counseling

-Those with serious health conditions who have been unable to obtain private insurance can purchase a policy subsidized by the federal government at rates similar to those for healthy adults

More Changes to Come in 2014

Many of the measures under the health care reform bill are not set to go into effect until 2014. Some of these measures include:

Pre-existing conditions: health insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions

Penalties: those who have not purchased a health insurance policy will be assessed a penalty of $95 or up to 1% of their income for individuals, whichever is greater. The fine increases to $695 or 2.5% of an individual's income in 2016.

Insurance exchange: insurance premiums subsidized by the federal government under the state-based insurance exchange will become available for those who fall within income guidelines. Currently, those with incomes above 133% of the federal poverty level and below 400% of the federal poverty level will be eligible on a sliding scale for the subsidies.

Maternity care: insurance companies will be required to provide coverage for maternity care

Nursing mothers: employers will be required to provide nursing mothers unpaid reasonable break times for pumping breast milk as well as a private place other than a bathroom to do it in

Continuing coverage: those who quit or lose their jobs will not lose their health coverage. They will have the option to purchase coverage subsidized by the federal government through the insurance exchange. Those whose only source of income is unemployment benefits may be eligible for Medicaid.

Expansion of Medicaid: the Medicaid program will be made available to any adult under 65 years of age who falls within the income guidelines, currently set at 133% of the federal poverty limit, or less than $29,327 for a family of four.

Conclusion

Once all of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act go into effect, it will have a profound impact on the US health care system. Whether or not it will be able to tackle all of the problems facing the nation's health care system has yet to be seen. However, these reforms could go a long way towards improving patient care, including decreasing the number of medical errors currently plaguing our system.

For more information on how the health care reform law impacts your rights or for questions about filing a medical malpractice claim, contact an experienced attorney in your area.

Article provided by Mishkind Law Firm Co., L.P.A. - Visit us at www.mishkindlaw.com

Related Information:

  1. Newly Effective Health Reform Benefits for Older Americans
  2. Putting Power Over Health Care Into Hands of Americans
  3. Healthcare Cover for those with a Disability


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