In the past five years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there have been strong supporters and fierce opponents.  No matter what side of the ACA one falls, it’s hard to deny the positive results it has had in some people’s lives. Since 2013, uninsured rate dropped by 31% among Americans ages 50-64.

Elderly Americans are among the most underserved populations in the country, and are at risk of struggling with poverty and disparity in health care.  The ACA expanded access to health insurance coverage to 50- to 64-year-olds through several provisions, including expanding eligibility for Medicaid, subsidies for consumers purchasing coverage through the new health insurance Marketplaces, prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher rates based on medical history, and restricting how much insurers can increase premiums for older consumers.  Prior to the ACA this age group often went without access to health insurance due to high costs, denials based on pre-existing conditions, and limited Medicaid eligibility.

Between December 2013 and December 2014, uninsured rates dropped from 11.6%

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It’s February 5, 2014, and the Affordable Care Act is still here.

There have been lots of changes over the last few weeks, in a few different areas:

  • Marketplaces pushed back the deadline to enroll in a Marketplace plan for coverage to December 23, in order for coverage to begin on January 1.  And some states went even further!
  • Marketplaces have pushed back payment deadlines (allowing people more time to pay their January premiums).  For example, California’s Marketplace pushed back the payment deadline to January 15.  Some health plans are also deciding on their own to give people more time to pay.

So, check with your marketplace or your health plan for your own specific deadlines.

And two weeks ago, the U.S Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced that people, who have health insurance coverage through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), can now keep their plan through March 31, 2014.  These plans were originally supposed to end on December 31, 2014.  However, HHS wanted to give people more time to find a new plan in the Marketplace.  For more information, click here.

If you are on a PCIP plan and want to move to a Marketplace plan before your coverage ends on March 31, then you need to sign up for a Marketplace plan by March 15, in order for your new coverage to begin on April 1.

And for those of you who want some light reading and desperately want to know what a “Risk Corridor” is or who a “Dual Eligible” might be, visit this Affordable Care Act dictionary!

Disclaimer

This post originally appeared on

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The passing of the Affordable Care Act has implemented a number of changes to American healthcare. Many of these changes directly affect families, the elderly, and people with pre-existing conditions, leaving many of 20-somethings wondering “What does this mean for me?” One major impact of the new law is that young adults can stay on their parents’ healthcare plan until age 26. Before the passing of the Affordable Care Act children could only stay on their parents’ insurance up to age 19, with exceptions for full-time students. Since the law has been enacted, over 3 million young adults have gained insurance.

As a recent college graduate, I took full advantage of the new law and remained on my parents’ insurance until 26. After that I had options – lots of options – most of which I knew very little about (sound familiar?). I did know that as a Massachusetts resident I had to be insured, or I would face an increase on my taxes.

The first option was to wait for an open enrollment period and get back on my parents’

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Many of our NeedyMeds users have asked us to help them figure out what healthcare reform, or Obamacare, will mean for them and for their families or clients.  This is understandable because the law is complex, with both state and federal governments playing a role in implementation.

Some of the more common questions include these:

  • I am uninsured right now. The new law says I have to buy insurance. What happens if I can’t afford it? What will happen if I don’t buy it?
  • Can I keep the health insurance I already get from my work?
  • Can I get health insurance even if I already have health problems?
  • I am a senior citizen. What will happen to my health coverage with the new law?

To help answer these and other questions, and provide clear guidance, we recommend reading Kaiser Health News’ “A Consumer’s Guide To The Health Law,” which provides a clear and concise overview of the ACA.

Some analysts argue that there could be modifications to reduce federal spending as part of a broader deficit deal; for now, this is just speculation. What is clear is that the law will have sweeping ramifications for consumers, state officials, employers and health care providers, including hospitals and doctors.

While some of the key features don’t kick in until 2014, the law has already altered the health care industry and established a number of consumer benefits. For example, the extension of coverage to adult children up to age 26, the elimination of lifetime spending caps and ability

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