Affordable Care Act: What it can do for you

What has the Affordable Care Act done for you? So far, some nifty provisions have helped numerous folk, like extending coverage of dependents until age 26.

In my life, it’s affected my family. Both my brothers were able to stay on my parent’s health care plan. They could afford health care and to work on the home farm, instead of taking jobs in town. I certainly have appreciated seeing my brothers happy, and working at jobs they love, instead of miserable, insured on a plan that covers little and eats up paychecks.

For others, the Affordable Care Act offers choices. If you have a pre-existing condition, you can still qualify for an insurance plan that will cover people who otherwise have no options. Another benefit: increased payments to rural health care providers. That keeps them available to serve our communities.

Healthcare.gov (the official governmental web site) gives a timeline of what’s changing and when. It allows us to see what’s already in place, and what’s coming, like rate review standards and medical loss ratio (MLR).

What the heck are those? Their purpose is to make insurance companies more accountable. You wouldn’t let your mechanic raise her prices over 10 percent without understanding why. Insurance companies should be held to the same standard. Rate review is either the state or federal government reviewing rate (premium) increases by insurance companies. If they can’t prove a good reason for the increase, they aren’t allowed to raise the rates!

Also, they must spend 80% of the money they collect from their customers on benefits (MLR). If they can’t meet that goal and their profits are too high, they must REBATE the money to consumers!

So, here’s what I think. I’m happy my brothers have access to health care plans. I was too old to qualify. But I still had to deal with medical issues. I’m looking forward to the day when more of the Affordable Care Act is implemented, and I get to share in the bounty of being protected, and having Affordable Care.

By Inga Haugen, former Rural Organizing Intern