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Our Weekly - ObamaCare: A Wide Door to Healthcare

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Location: Washington, DC

By Molly Young

In my research for this article, I decided to do a short "grassroots" poll of various friends and former co-workers to see what they thought of "ObamaCare." They ranged from custodial staff to engineers and administrators.

Some immediately said that it was socialism, and the country didn't need tax dollars supporting people for free. Others said it was a good idea, and the government should be helping take care of people. A couple of people simply said, "I honestly don't know anything about it.' The interesting thing was that of the 10 people that I informally polled, only one person knew a few specifics, but still actually didn't have enough information to make an informed decision. The majority couldn't give me a specific detail about what the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, actually consisted of, or why they specifically approved or disapproved of it.

In January of 2014, some important provisions will become available under ObamaCare, some of which need to be prepared for beginning in October of this year. So, it's important to have a basic idea of some of those provisions and how they will affect those here in California.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act--popularly called ObamaCare--signed into law by President Barack Obama three years ago on March 23, 2010, is a multi-year program that immediately began phasing in various mandates to provide not only more affordable and accessible medical coverage for Americans, but to also ensure better health for people through preventative wellness care.

It is not a welfare program. The program is for all people who have not had access to medical insurance in the past either because it was too expensive, or because their employer did not offer it.

It also sets certain prohibitions on insurance companies. Some of the more immediate results that became effective in 2010 were:

* Insurance companies could no longer impose lifetime dollar limits on hospital stays

* Dependent children could remain on their parents insurance until age 26

* New insurance plans had to cover preventative care and medical screenings

* The elderly who are affected by the Medicare Part D coverage gap, which caused high out-of-pocket prescription costs, would receive a rebate of $250, and the gap would be phased out by the year 2020.

* The Affordable Care Act also prohibits insurance companies from dropping policyholders when they become sick, as well as prohibits the exclusion of children under 19 years old with a pre-existing medical condition.

* In January of 2014, insurance companies will no longer be able to exclude adults over age 19 with a pre-existing condition.

"The Affordable Care Act has been a strong step in the right direction toward removing one of America's greatest shames--which is the lack of access to quality affordable healthcare for far too many citizens," said Congresswoman Karen Bass, (D-Calif.). "We recently celebrated the third anniversary of the Affordable Care Act and already people in my district are benefiting from many of the key provisions, including young adults being able to remain on their parent's healthcare until age 26.


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