Starting on January 1, 2010, the Affordable Health Care Act established a program to provide insurance to people who had been uninsured for at least six months due to pre-existing conditions - including mental disorders. This was a great thing - except it meant people who'd been uninsured for a shorter period of time, or those who lost their coverage after that date, might have to go without things like critical medications until they reached that six-month point.
Under the phasing in schedule, denying coverage for pre-existing conditions will be outlawed beginning on January 1, 2014 - along with charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions. In addition, tax credits would go into effect for individuals and families to help pay for their health insurance, and Insurance Exchanges would provide affordable options for individuals and small businesses.
This is not to mention the provisions of the Act that have already gone into effect, such as removing limits on lifetime coverage for essential services like hospital stays (all limits would be removed on January 1, 2014), eliminating pre-existing condition exclusions for children, and allowing children under the age of 26 to remain on their parents' policies.
While I was able to get coverage under my state's high-risk pool when I lost my employer-based health insurance, it isn't cheap, and I'm straining to pay it. The tax credits scheduled to go into effect in 2014 could help me a lot. I'll wager there are very few of you who could afford to pay what my former private insurer wanted to charge me - around $3,400 a month. That was because of my pre-existing conditions.
Now we could lose all or most of it. The Supreme Court heard arguments this past week about the constitutionality of the Act. At the core of the dissent is the Act's requirement, not yet in effect, for people to purchase health insurance.
There are probably three ways the Court could rule:
- Uphold the entire law,
- Strike down the provision regarding requirement to buy insurance, or
- Strike down the entire law
The last one scares me silly - not just for me, but for everyone who can't get insurance, who can't get adequate insurance, who struggles with pre-existing conditions like bipolar disorder.
We won't know till June. I don't know about you, but both before and after the Supreme Court decision is revealed, I intend to tell my existing Congressman and Senators how I feel, and to vote for the candidates who are most likely to keep health care reform alive.
Timeline of the Affordable Care Act. Healthcare.gov.
Published On: March 31, 2012
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