After clearing significant hurdles over the past year — including repeated repeal votes in Congress, a Supreme Court challenge, and a presidential election — the future of President Obama’s landmark health reform law is finally secure. Now that it’s here to stay, Americans can expect to reap significant benefits as the Affordable Care Act continues to be gradually implemented over the next few years. But some important provisions of the health law have already gone into effect, helping improve coverage for millions of Amercians and significantly reduce the national uninsurance rate. Americans can be grateful for these five existing Obamacare provisions that are currently working to provide the following benefits for millions of people across the country:
1) Eliminating the “donut hole” coverage gap. After this Obamacare provision began working to make prescription drug coverage more affordable for seniors, the Centers for Medicare And Medicaid Services (CMS) confirmed that over 5 million seniors and people with disability saved an estimated $4 billion on their prescription costs. And the health law ensures that those savings will only increase in the future, as the Medicare program eventually covers more and more of the cost of both brand-name and generic drugs. The average senior on a traditional Medicare plan is expected to rack up about $5,000 in savings between 2010 and 2022.
2) Preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Eliminating discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions is one of the most popular provisions of the health reform law, since the insurance market has typically forced people with genetic or chronic illnesses to either pay expensive premiums in high-risk pools or forgo coverage altogether. Americans under 19 years old are currently eligible for these protections, and the provision will be expanded to all Americans in 2014.
3) Allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26. Obamacare has helped extend coverage to millions of young adults by allowing them to remain covered under their parents’ plans until they turn 26, resulting in a record drop in the number of uninsured young adults across the nation. More than six million young adults are now insured through their parents’ insurance plans because of this provision.
4) Increasing affordable access to women’s health services. Thanks to Obamacare, a wide range of women’s preventative health services are now covered in employer-based insurance plans at no additional charge. The health reform law works to eliminate gender-based disparity in health costs by eliminating co-pays for birth control, HPV screening, breastfeeding support, and domestic violence resources. And studies have confirmed that Obamacare’s contraception mandate will help lower the national abortion rate by increasing access to affordable and reliable forms of birth control.
5) Ensuring that premiums go toward Americans’ health care rather than insurance companies’ profits. Obamacare’s 80/20 rule mandates that insurance companies can only spend 20 percent of the premiums they charge on their own profits and overhead costs, while the remaining 80 percent needs to go toward the cost of providing quality health care. Thanks to this provision, Americans have already saved an estimated $2.1 billion on their premium costs. And if you got a refund check in the mail this past year from your insurance company, you can thank this part of the Affordable Care Act for that. About 13 million Americans have received over $1 billion in rebates since the health law enacted the 80/20 rule.