Health insurance reform won’t happen overnight. It will take several years to implement reforms and establish the public option and the Exchange, a one-stop shopping marketplace where you can get lower rates like large groups. But there are steps that are taken right away in the Affordable Health Care for America Act to improve and preserve people's access to quality, affordable health care–from increasing funding for community health centers to prohibiting insurance companies from treating domestic violence as a “pre-existing condition.” Here are the top 14 provisions that take effect immediately:
1. BEGINS TO CLOSE THE MEDICARE PART D DONUT HOLE
Reduces the donut hole by $500 and institutes a 50% discount on brand-name drugs, effective January 1, 2010.
2. IMMEDIATE HELP FOR THE UNINSURED UNTIL EXCHANGE IS AVAILABLE (INTERIM HIGH-RISK POOL)
Creates a temporary insurance program until the Exchange is available for individuals who have been uninsured for several months or have been denied a policy because of pre-existing conditions.
3. BANS LIFETIME LIMITS ON COVERAGE
Prohibits health insurance companies from placing lifetime caps on coverage.
4. ENDS RESCISSIONS
Prohibits insurers from nullifying or rescinding a patient's policy when they file a claim for benefits, except in the case of fraud.
5. EXTENDS COVERAGE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE UP TO 27TH BIRTHDAY THROUGH PARENTS' INSURANCE
Requires health plans to allow young people through age 26 to remain on their parents' insurance policy, at the parents' choice.
6. ELIMINATES COST-SHARING FOR PREVENTIVE SERVICES IN MEDICARE
Eliminates co-payments for preventive services and exempts preventive services from deductibles under the Medicare program.
7. IMPROVES HELP FOR LOW-INCOME MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES
Improves the low-income protection programs in Medicare to assure more individuals are able to access this vital help.
8. PROVIDES NEW CONSUMER PROTECTIONS IN MEDICARE ADVANTAGE
Prohibits Medicare Advantage plans from charging enrollees higher cost-sharing for services in their private plan than what is charged in traditional Medicare.
9. IMMEDIATE SUNSHINE ON PRICE GOUGING
Discourages excessive price increases by insurance companies through review and disclosure of insurance rate increases.
10. CONTINUITY FOR DISPLACED WORKERS
Allows Americans to keep their COBRA coverage until the Exchange is in place and they can access affordable coverage.
11. CREATES NEW, VOLUNTARY, PUBLIC LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE PROGRAM
Creates a long-term care insurance program to be financed by voluntary payroll deductions to provide benefits to adults who become functionally disabled.
12. HELP FOR EARLY RETIREES
Creates a $10 billon fund to finance a temporary reinsurance program to help offset the costs of expensive health claims for employers that provide health benefits for retirees age 55-64.
13. COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS
Increases funding for Community Health Centers to allow for a doubling of the number of patients seen by the centers over the next 5 years.
14. INCREASING NUMBER OF PRIMARY CARE DOCTORS
Provides new investment in training programs to increase the number of primary care doctors, nurses, and public health professionals.