On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and a week later on March 30, 2010, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act was signed into law. Together, these two bills are referred to as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The provisions contained within these two massive pieces of legislation truly overhaul the entire health insurance industry.
Healthcare reform has several underlying goals to it. The ACA attempts to do the following:
- expand access to healthcare coverage for all citizens
- make healthcare coverage affordable for all citizens
- improve the quality of care that consumers receive
- promote preventive care and wellness
- increase transparency in the healthcare system
- shift the burden of rising healthcare costs away from the American consumer
The specific provisions of the ACA extend on a timeline from 2010 through 2018. Some important provisions have already been implemented.
- Elimination of lifetime dollar maximums on essential health benefits
- Dependent coverage extension to age 26 extension
- Elimination of pre-existing condition restrictions on children under age 19
- Prohibition on retroactive coverage rescissions except in cases of fraud
- Prohibition on cost-sharing for preventive care services
- Small Business Health Care Tax Credit