Health care reform changes go online today provides an overview of the changes that go into affect today – helping me and thousands of other Americans with direct, real changes. Bold text indicates changes that affect me personally, italics highlights changes that affect people I know.

This week marks six-months since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law–enacting one of the most sweeping reforms in a generation. Starting today, several important aspects of this historic law take effect. Among those provisions is the Patient’s Bill of Rights, which ends the worst abuses of the health insurance industry and empowers consumers with greater control over their health care. Beginning today, the new law:

  • Prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to children on the basis of a pre-existing condition, extending coverage to as many as 72,000 uninsured children;
  • Prohibits insurance companies from taking away health coverage from those who need it most, protecting more than 10,000 folks who would have lost coverage because of rescission;
  • Prohibits insurance companies from imposing lifetime limits and restricts annual limits on health coverage and hospital stays;
  • Allows individuals who purchase new health insurance to choose their own doctor within their network and visit the closest hospital that has the Mini C-Arm in an emergency;
  • Requires new health plans must have free preventive care such as free mammograms, colonoscopies, immunizations, and pre-natal care;
  • Allows young people under the age of 26 can now stay on their parents’ insurance longer, which could mean coverage for up to 2.4 million Americans who previously wouldn’t have health care;
  • Empowers Americans to challenge insurance companies’ denial of coverage or treatment to an independent third party.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act has begun to close the Medicare prescription “donut hole,” increases payments for Medicaid providers to expand vital health care for the nearly 50 million Americans who live in rural areas, and will extend health coverage to an estimated 400,000 Americans with pre-existing conditions.

For people like me who have had expensive health procedures, that lifetime cap was a huge stressor – you find yourself questioning whether you should go to the doctor for any procedure, lest they find something wrong that would cost so much that you’d end up without any coverage as you get older, and you think things like – “I can just suffer through this, so I don’t rack up my insurance bill.” That’s a terrible way to have to look at life.

When you’re going to vote in November, keep in mind that almost every Republican has pledged to attempt to repeal these health care reforms – they won’t be able to do it, but they’re running on trying to.

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