President Barack Obama called the move "a victory for the American people" and said it "answers the prayers of every American who has hoped deeply for something to be done about a health care system that works for insurance companies, but not for ordinary people."
So what will change now that "health care reform" is finally here?
- Insurance companies cannot deny coverage to children with pre-existing medical conditions, nor will they be able to do so to adults come 2014.
- Young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until age 26.
- Lifetime caps on how much insurance benefit you can receive in your lifetime will be limited and banned altogether in 2014.
- Your insurance can no longer be revoked if you get sick.
- Indoor tanning services will be taxed 10 percent beginning July 1, 2010.
- In 2014, you’ll be required to buy health insurance, or face an annual fine.
Required to Buy Health Insurance?
Yes, but as written in the New York Times, this may or may not be strictly enforced:
"Although most Americans who do not obtain health insurance would face a federal penalty starting in 2014, many experts question how strict the enforcement of that penalty would actually be.
The first year, consumers who did not have insurance would owe $95, or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater. But the penalty would subsequently rise, reaching $695, or 2 percent of income.
Families who fall below the income-tax filing thresholds would not owe anything."
So while you will likely be fined if you don’t have health insurance, the fine is likely to be thousands less than the cost of buying insurance -- unless you’re seriously ill or have a pre-existing disease. The good news is that, come 2014, no insurance company can turn you down if you apply for coverage during an illness or after learning you have an illness (according to federal law). No precondition refusals will be acceptable and incremental increases in fees for being sick will no longer be acceptable either.
So for millions of people paying a fine, rather than paying for health insurance premiums, would amount to thousands of dollars in savings.
Basically all the benefits to this plan are loaded into the first few years and the big penalties begin after 2014.
What will happen if everyone takes advantage of these benefits now?
Those paying for health insurance are likely to see significant increases in costs while more people drop off until they absolutely must have "sick-care" health insurance to help cover their major costs.
This scenario does not account for accidents or emergency injuries or illnesses, which can require extensive medical care that can quickly add up to thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more).
So to protect yourself from the costs of unexpected injuries, sudden illness or other health emergencies, we recommend getting at least a basic insurance plan that will protect you from such expenses.