December 16, 2011


Doug Hill, Know Your Care Wisconsin
Sara Finger, Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health

Bill Feitlinger, Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Persons

The Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010. This groundbreaking legislation that is reforming our health care system has been the subject of much controversy and discussion. The Affordable Care Act does not establish government-run single payer insurance (which Medicare is), but mandates that everyone will have access to coverage that provides quality, affordable health care. While certain provisions have already been implemented, the impact of the ACA will not be felt until 2014, when Health Insurance Exchanges , a competitive marketplace of private insurance plans, are in place.

On this program, Doug Hill, Sara Finger and Billy Feitlinger present an overview of the legislation, highlight the major provisions of the law, and clarify misperceptions that continue to persist.

Here are some of their major points: Access to affordable health care is a major factor in achieving and maintaining health. The Affordable Care Act promotes access by prohibiting denying coverage of children based on pre-existing conditions (effective for adults beginning 2014); prohibiting insurance companies from rescinding coverage based on an unintentional error; eliminating lifetime limits on insurance coverage; providing small business and non-profit organizations health insurance tax credits; providing preventive care and annual wellness exams without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance (in effect now for Medicare recipients - becoming effective in 2014 for all health plans); closing the doughnut hole in Medicare Prescription Drug coverage; allowing young adults to stay on their parents' plan until 26; requiring 80-85% of insurance premiums to be spent on medical care, and many more provisions.

Under the ACA, being a woman is no longer considered a pre-existing condition. A full range of preventive services for women including annual well-woman visits begin on August 1, 2012. Also, Medicare benefits will continue to be strengthened including cracking down on fraud, waste and abuse. Efforts to fight fraud returned more than $2.5 billion to the Medicare Trust Fund in fiscal year 2009 alone. Health Insurance Exchanges, a competitive marketplace of private plans where individuals and small businesses can buy affordable and qualified health benefit plans will be established in each state beginning 2014. Tax credits for those in lower income levels will be available to those eligible.

For more information on health care reform and how it will impact you and your family, go to