Health reform was signed into law on March 23, 2010. With its passage comes a flood of questions about how it will affect rural Americans. This page and the links provided on the left side of the screen will help you understand what the new law means for your family, business, and community. See our reports on the unfolding landscape of Affordable Care Act implementation here.
> A tax credit starting in 2010 for up to 35 percent of the cost of their health insurance premiums if they have fewer than 25 full-time employees and if their average wage is less than $50,000.
> The Small Business Health Calculator lets a small business see its potential savings from the new legislation.
> Read our report Health Care Reform: What's in It For Me? Small Business to find out more about what the new law means for small business.
> Rural communities will benefit from the $11 billion (over 5 years) in increased funding for Community Health Centers, which will likely double the number of patients in that time.
> There is new funding for training programs to increase the number of primary care doctors, nurses and public health professionals in underserved areas.
> Read our report Health Care Reform: What's in It For? Rural Communities and Medical Care to find out more about what the new law means for rural communities and their residents.
> The new law eliminates co-payments for preventative services, effective in 2011.
> It also begins to close the Medicare Part D “donut hole,” a problem that can cost seniors with substantial prescription drug needs thousands of dollars. In 2010 seniors who fall into the donut hole will receive a $250 rebate, and starting in 2011 drugs for seniors in the donut hole will be eligible for a 50 percent discount. The donut hole will disappear completely by 2020.
For People with Insurance
For those who already had insurance when the law was passed, the bill included several provisions that took effect Set. 23, 2010:
> Bans lifetime caps on insurance coverage. The bill also heavily regulates annual limits until 2014 when they will be prohibited.
> Prohibits health insurance plans from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.
> Requires new insurance plans to cover preventative services at no cost to consumers.
> Bans health plans from dropping people’s coverage when they get sick (also known as rescission).
> The new law extends the ability for parents to keep their children on their health insurance plan until their 26th birthday.
> In June of 2010 a temporary high-risk pool will provide immediate access to insurance for Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition. This high-risk pool will continue until 2014, when discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions will be banned.
> New insurance plans will include an independent appeals process to deal with complaints and appeals from consumers, because many of us have had to haggle with an insurance company over a claim. Aid will be available to states to assist them to establish an office of health insurance consumer assistance to help consumers file complaints and appeals.
> Salaries and perks for the heads of insurance companies have received a lot of media attention as one reason insurance premiums keep increasing. Effective January 1, 2011, insurance companies will have to spend 80 percent of premiums on medical services for the individual and small group market, and 85 percent of premiums on medical services for the large group market. Insurers who don’t meet these standards must provide rebates to policyholders.
These are just a few of the provisions included in the health reform bill. Our reports and analysis will continue to tackle other issues in more detail. In the meantime, feel free to contact the Center for Rural Affairs office with specific questions, and we will do our best to point you in the right direction to find answers.
For more information, contact Steph Larsen, StephL@cfra.org or call the Center for Rural Affairs office at 402.687.2100.
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