In March of 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, into law. This signature piece of legislation was controversial, with no Republicans voting for the final passage of the bill. Detractors brought several lawsuits against the new healthcare law, but the Supreme Court ruled in favor of its constitutionality on June 28, 2012. The law provides a number of benefits for those who are in the market for health insurance.
The main intent of the law was to bring health insurance coverage to the large slice of the American population that did not have insurance before its passage. The law was also intended to keep people from having their insurance companies drop them should they get sick. Subsidies from the government were a part of the law that were intended to keep monthly premiums at an affordable level. Health insurance through the ACA was not intended to replace currently existing private or government-sponsored healthcare programs.
In order to comply with the requirements of the law, new health plans are required to provide some essential benefits that are aimed at preventive medicine. Some of these benefits are: annual checkups, physician and emergency care services, lab tests, care for infants and new mothers, contraception and pediatric care. Health plans that do not include these essential coverage components are no longer permissible on the consumer market.
There are other benefits of the Obamacare legislation. Young adults can now remain on the insurance policy of their parents until the age of 26. This permits them to take an introductory job that might not include health benefits while still gaining experience.
The Affordable Care Act removed lifetime limits on insurance policies in order to protect patients with chronic illnesses that can cost millions of dollars. Annual benefit limits are also now prohibited. Additionally, the law provides for guaranteed issue and prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against those who have pre-existing medical conditions that previously kept many American citizens from qualifying for health insurance.
The new healthcare law provides for four basic levels of coverage, each with different out-of-pocket deductibles and copayment levels. These include the Bronze plan, the Silver Plan, the Gold Plan and the Platinum plan. The lowest level, the Bronze Plan requires consumers to pay 40 percent of costs out-of-pocket as a copayment. The Platinum Plan only requires consumers of healthcare to pay 10 cents of every dollar as a copayment. The lower level plans trade off lower monthly premiums for the higher copayment levels.