"Obamacare" and You - What is the Affordable Care Act? Part 1
keesto | 10/4/2013, 12:15 p.m.
By Eric D. Griggs, M.D,Data News Weekly ExclusiveWith an ever increasing amount of mis - and dis - information regarding the new Healthcare Law, it comes as no surprise that people are afraid, confused and have no idea the difference between truth and myth. As a consequence, many have formed their own opinions and, further, go on to spread them without regard. Recently, on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, a camera crew took to the streets to ask people to choose between Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act. Not surprisingly, the majority of respondents favored the Affordable Care Act and felt strongly against Obamacare. A CNBC Poll "found that 46 percent of Americans oppose Obamacare, while only 37 percent oppose the Affordable Care Act." (http://gawker.com/kimmel-asks-americans-to-choose-obamacare-or-the-affor-1433866673 ). The irony is that they are synonyms for the EXACT SAME THING. Obamacare is simply a "nickname," a sleek and convenient term that made its debut in July of 2009. It first appeared in print in March of 2007, "when Health Care lobbyist Jeanne Schulte Scott penned it in a health industry journal." (http://cnn.com/2012/06/25/politics/obamacare-word-debate/index.html?c=&page=2) . Feelings of resentment, angst, anti-patriotism, disappointment and utter confusion prevail. The facts have been so sullied and obscured with political bias and public misunderstanding that when asked about the current state of healthcare in America, the average citizen's response is "I have no idea."With that said, let's start with the basics. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") BILL was first signed in the House of Representatives on October 8, 2009; the Senate's version was signed on December 24, 2009. The final version of the BILL was signed, after changes, on March 21, 2010. This bill passed health insurance changes (reforms) that began in 2010 and will continue through 2014, including a Patient's Bill of Rights which "protects consumers (patients) from the worst abuses of the insurance industry." This BILL became a LAW on March 23, 2010 when it was signed by President Barack Obama. (www.hhs.gov/healthcare/facts/timeline/timeline-text.html)Here's where a lot of the confusion lies, the devil in the details. People ask, "What's the difference between a BILL and a LAW?" The simplest and best explanation I've found is here:"What is the difference between a bill and a law?"The difference is that a bill is a proposed law that has not been passed yet, and a law has been passed."What is the difference between amendment and law and bill?An amendment to the Constitution has to be approved by 75% of the state's legislature after it has been approved by over 50% of Congress. For a new Law, Congress has to approve it by 50% for it to become a law. A bill is only a suggestion by someone to become a law. The bill has to go through committees, and then through Congress to become a law. A law can always be vetoed by the President unless two-thirds of Congress overrides his veto. And any Law can be shot down by the U.S. Supreme Court except an amendment to the Constitution."The LAW was not shot down. Thus, the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) is a LAW and must be followed, to the letter, as with any other LAW. Moving on, with this established, the next objective is to define the basics of the LAW so that it is well understood. The tenets of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in its simplest form, read as follows:"The Affordable Care Act puts consumers back in charge of their health care. Under the law, a new "Patient's Bill of Rights" gives the American people the stability and flexibility they need to make informed choices about their health.Coverage:-Ends Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions for Children: Health plans can no longer limit or deny benefits to children under 19 due to a pre-existing condition.-Keeps Young Adults Covered: If you are under 26, you may be eligible to be covered under your parent's health plan.-Ends Arbitrary Withdrawals of Insurance Coverage: Insurers can no longer cancel your coverage just because you made an honest mistake.-Guarantees Your Right to Appeal: You now have the right to ask that your plan reconsider its denial of payment.Costs: -Ends Lifetime Limits on Coverage: Lifetime limits on most benefits are banned for all new health insurance plans.-Reviews Premium Increases: Insurance companies must now publicly justify any unreasonable rate hikes.-Helps You Get the Most from Your Premium Dollars: Your premium dollars must be spent primarily on health care - not administrative costs.Care:-Covers Preventive Care at No Cost to You: You may be eligible for recommended preventive health services. No co-payment.-Protects Your Choice of Doctors: Choose the primary care doctor you want from your plan's network.-Removes Insurance Company Barriers to Emergency Services: You can seek emergency care at a hospital outside of your health plan's network."(http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/rights/index.html)Most importantly, what should be understood is that though the Affordable Care Act will address the needs of roughly more than 45 million uninsured Americans, approximately 85 percent of Americans are insured. And though these people already have health insurance through employers or other means, the quality, cost and amount of coverage stand to be improved beginning on January 1, 2014 with the beginning of the new LAW. Open enrollment, or the ability to sign up for the new plans and shop for better deals, began on October 1, 2013 and will continue through March of 2014. Support and answers to all questions regarding this new LAW can be found at www.healthcare.gov with 24/7 assistance. If internet access is not available, you can call 1-800-318-2596 with any questions or help needed navigating through this new process. Operators will take calls and answer your questions 24 hours a day/7 days a week.Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series when I address the numerous questions about the Affordable Care Act and Distinguishing Myths from the Truth.Prescription for the Week: Get educated about your new healthcare options. It can save your life.Get checked. Get fit Get MOVING!!Follow me on Twitter: @docgriggs1 or email me any medical questions: @ AskDocGriggs@fox8tv.net