The Affordable Care Act at Two

Birthday cupcakeTwo years ago, President Obama joined a long line of American leaders like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Bill Clinton in working to pass comprehensive health reform. Well, today we are grateful that those efforts paid off and all Americans can enjoy the benefits of a bouncing, baby (health care) bill!

The Affordable Care Act turns two years old today and, like all toddlers, it’s been very busy!  While other toddlers can go through a “terrible twos” stage, the ACA is just embarking on its “terrific twos.” All children are wonderful, but I can’t think of another two-year-old that has so dramatically changed American’s lives.  

In fact, other youngsters already are benefitting dramatically from the ACA’s provision that prohibits health insurance companies from denying coverage to children on the basis of pre-existing conditions.  Before the passage of the ACA, health insurance companies could refuse to insure children with pre-existing conditions as common as an ear infection, leaving parents to pay out of pocket for all medical care or to forgo it all together. Now, children with pre-existing conditions like ear infections or asthma cannot be denied coverage, which allows their parents to rest easier knowing that their children have access to affordable care when they need it.

Although even healthy births and healthy children can be costly medical events, children born with severe medical issues in the past have often come close to or surpassed their insurance’s lifetime (or annual) limit on coverage when they are quite young.  The ACA has now eliminated the lifetime caps on insurance (and put restrictions on annual limits).  Almost 28 million children will benefit from this change.    

Of course, that’s not all the law has already done. We’ve done some significant blogging on the steps that ACA is making in the area of preventative care, explaining how the law is working to control and reduce the epidemic of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity in order to improve health and reduce spending.  The law has also set in place a significant measure for the health of low-income families by requiring states to maintain their current CHIP and Medicaid eligibility requirements, which is keeping kids covered and healthy until the ACA kicks in completely in 2014. Additionally, the ACA allows children to remain on their parent’s health insurance until age 26,  is reducing the cost of seniors’ medications, and has made insurance companies responsible for justifying premium increases to their clients, among other fantastic reforms.

So, what should we expect as the ACA matures?  We have a lot to look forward to!  In 2014, all health insurance plans will cover pregnancy and prenatal care, resulting in healthier moms and babies. Also that year, children’s vision and dental services will be covered by all policies. Covering children’s oral care is a multi-faceted issue that affects academic performance and self-image, as well as preventing expensive emergency care.  

Of course, the benefits are not just for children.  Subsidies that will make insurance much more affordable for working people will also become available in 2014.  More affordable insurance equals more insured people and greater access to care. Also in 2014, Medicaid will be expanded to everyone under 133% of the Federal Poverty Level.  

So take a moment today to enjoy a piece of birthday cake and this short ACA birthday song!  After your cake, you can check out more milestone developments in the ACA here!     

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