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San Francisco - Six months after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, patients and families are beginning to reap rewards. The nation's new health care law is now delivering protections and cost benefits; yet it will affect consumers differently, and that may cause confusion. Understanding will contribute to its effective implementation and this will involve all ends of the spectrum.
The new law is to commence effectively from September 23, 2010; six months after President Obama signed it into law.
"For the older Americans with multiple health problems who rely on the system most, improving coordination and quality of care is especially critical. At long last, the new law puts that within reach. Soon, essential preventive care like blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes screening will be free, and the building blocks will be in place to improve care coordination, reduce harmful medication interactions, prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, and improve communication among doctors and patients," said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, which leads the Campaign for Better Care. "That is what patients - especially older adults and the families who care for them - need most. I'm optimistic that we are finally on the road to creating a health care system that works for our most vulnerable patients." This is helping to close the donut hole for Medicare beneficiaries, creating new patient protections, making it possible for people to get better information and compare health insurance plans online, and laying the groundwork for new approaches that will improve coordination and help people get better care. "We are especially hopeful about the increase in access to coverage for low-income families and its potential to reduce disparities. The new patient protections in the Affordable Care Act will finally mean families can get the care they need, when they need it, without fear of being denied because of their age or a pre-existing condition," said Emily Spitzer, Executive Director of the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), a Campaign for Better Care partner. "It's about time."
Changes in the Law
The start of the new law depends on when your health insurance plan year starts. Many of the new requirements begin with plan years starting on or after Sept. 23. But if your plan year starts Jan. 1, as many do, that's when the changes start.
"Grandfathered" plans, those that existed before the law was enacted March 23 and which remain essentially unchanged, must meet only some of the requirements. New plans and those with significant changes in benefits or out-of-pocket costs must comply with even more changes in the law.
If you get insurance through work, ask your employer about any changes. If you buy insurance yourself, call your insurance company.
The New Benefits
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Sources: Associated Press Research, Employee Benefit Research Institute, eHealth Inc., Kaiser Family Foundation.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.