This morning Pres. Obama signed the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (ACA) into law. No matter how you look at it, this is a very historic event. But, what does it mean for us? If you are like most Americans, you are wondering what actually is in the 2,400 page bill and when the changes are taking place. Bellow are a few main points of the bill.
- Seeks to provide ”Quality Health Insurance Coverage for All Americans” by amending the Public Health Service Act to prohibit preexisting health condition exclusions from insurance coverage.
- Prevents Insurers from dropping coverage of an enrollee except on terms of fraud.
- Health insurance exchanges: requires States to establish an American Health Benefit Exchange for purchase of qualified health insurance plans. Creates a related entity to assist with small business health coverage.
- Penalties for Individuals: requires individuals to maintain minimal health care coverage beginning in 2014. Imposes a penalty for failure to maintain such coverage with exceptions for low-income individuals, members of Indian tribes, people who object on religious grounds.
- Penalties for medium-sized Businesses: requires employers of 50 workers who don’t offer coverage to pay a fee up to $750 per worker.
- Creates a Small Business Tax Credit: beginning in 2010, small employers can elect a tax credit for 50% of their employee health care coverage expenses. Small employers are generally defined as businesses with no more than 25 employees.
- On abortion, permits states to prohibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an exchange in the state. It prohibits federal funds from being used for abortion services and requires separate accounts for payments for such services.
- On Medicaid, the bill seeks to extend Medicaid coverage, beginning in calendar 2014, to certain low-income individuals under age 65. States can expand Medicaid eligibility to these people as early as April 1, 2010.
- Sets new standards for Medicare payment to hospitals and doctors by linking “payment to quality outcomes under the Medicare Program.”
- Implements the “Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009″ that gives drug makers 12 years of protection, or exclusivity, to sell biologic medicines before facing the threat of cheaper, off-brand alternatives.
- New excise tax on high premium insurance plans raises $149.1 billion over 10 years.This tax would be 40% of premiums paid on plans costing more than $23,000 for family plans and $8,500 for individual plans.
- New Medicare tax on wealthy: increases after December 31, 2012, the Medicare hospital insurance tax rate by 0.9 percentage points for individual taxpayers earning over $200,000, or married joint filers making more than $250,000.
- Raises medical tax deduction threshold from 7.5% to 10% of adjusted gross income beginning after 2012.
- Imposes a 10% excise tax on indoor tanning after July 1,2010.
- Imposes an annual fee on the branded prescription drug sales exceeding $5 million of manufacturers and importers of such drugs beginning in 2010.
There are many new provisions in this bill that will bring a lot of change. But, most of the changes won’t come until 2014.