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The Affordable Care Act is the biggest change to the way America pays for its healthcare in a generation. Inspired by the desire for a fairer system, so-called “Obama Care” includes several changes to healthcare funding that are coming into effect in stages. The Obama administration had hoped that the changes would drive down the cost of medical insurance, but will that be the case? The true nature of the reforms will not be understood until all aspects of the law have been enacted, but it is clear that opinion among Americans is divided.

What Are the Main Aspects of the Affordable Care Act?

The Affordable Insurance Exchange is one of the key reforms included in the Act, and it is designed to be a marketplace where businesses and individuals can shop around for the most competitive health insurance deals. The rationale behind the exchange is that providing a transparent and open market for health insurance will hopefully drive down premiums through the natural laws of competition. 

Employer Shared Responsibility will apply to businesses, starting in 2014. This element of the Act will impose financial penalties on companies with 50 or more full-time employees that don’t offer health insurance to workers. While many people consider these penalties as fines, the funds are intended to help employees with the cost of paying for their own insurance.

The Affordable Care Act also guarantees that health plans will deliver a core range of at least 10 health benefits that are deemed essential to good health. These benefits will include maternity care, the dispensing of prescription drugs, and emergency care. There will also be tax credits for individuals and the self-employed, and small businesses will also receive tax incentives for providing employees with health insurance if they employ fewer than 25 employees. 

What Does All of This Mean to Consumers?

The New York Times recently reported that premiums could fall by up to 50% for individuals because of the Affordable Insurance Exchange. Louisiana, Montana, and California have also all reported significant reductions in the average individual healthcare policy. It seems that insurance providers are becoming far more aggressive and reactive in their pricing policies, and that should be good news for consumers. However, critics of the plan, such as Rep. John Fleming, believe that once the system has been fully established, healthy people who have typically enjoyed lower premiums will end up paying more in order to subsidize those who require more frequent medical care.

If you have any questions on the Affordable Care Act and how it might affect your own health insurance, give your Millersport independent insurance agency Tom Jones Insurance a call at 740-467-2040. One of our fully trained experts will be able to guide you through the practicalities of the changes to the American healthcare system.

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