If you haven’t already been drowned by the articles, new stories, and media features discussing the major health care system overhaul that was just passed in the United States, then you are either living under a rock or are avoiding the internet and television because you find the matter incredibly confusing.

It is time to tackle that confusion and get informed in order to understand the changes in terms of health care and health care insurance that are on their way.

In the simplest of terms, the health reform bill has been put into place to help the over 30 million Americans that are living without health insurance and to provide a helping hand to those citizens struggling to pay for their current coverage.

There are still a lot of restrictions and certain compromises that need to be worked out in the Senate, but that is a completely different matter for another day. For now, let’s discuss what the reform actually means and what changes it will bring.

In reality, this new law is going to affect every single person within the country in some form or another. Lower-income adults that do not qualify for Medicaid will now have the option to access affordable insurance while workers that fall into the higher-income bracket could see their taxes rise gradually over the years. While health care reform is not an easy topic to navigate, it is important for you immediately find out how it affects you and the people you care about, as well as learn what benefits or services you might be entitled to.

Also, be sure to keep in mind that the benefits that come with reform will take some time to come to fruition, but for starters here is a simple breakdown of what you can expect for the weeks, months, and years to come.

Reform Right Now

  • The Senate will begin fixing and adjusting certain parts of the law in order to “perfect” it before new rules are put into place.
  • The change will be put into the works, but for now, uninsured Americans will still be uninsured.
    Reform in 3 Months
  • Citizens who have been living without insurance, thanks to a pre-existing medical condition, will become eligible for a high-risk insurance program.
  • Those that have retired early and are between the ages of 55-64 will be given coverage through a temporary insurance program until more permanent measures are put into place. This will help cover some of the costs that come with expensive premiums.

Reform in 6 Months

  • Insurance plans will, for the most part, be banned from putting lifetime limits onto their medical coverage. Companies will also not be allowed to cancel the policies of people who become sick.
  • Children will no longer be denied coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Children who are deemed dependent can be left on their parent’s insurance plans until the age of 26.
  • Private plans will be required to cover preventive medical measures.

Reform Sometime in 2010

  • More senior citizens will be given help paying for pharmaceuticals through Medicare.
  • Citizens with health issues that disqualified them from insurance will be offered federal coverage.
  • If someone’s prescription drug benefits run out and they are the beneficiaries of a drug plan, they will be given a rebate up to $250.
  • Small businesses will be eligible for an increase in tax benefits for medical coverage.

Reform in 2011

  • Individual insurance plans will have to spend at least 80% of the money made from premiums on medical services, while larger group plans will have to use at least 85%.
  • Medicare will begin to offer free preventative services, and deductibles will no longer have to be paid for preventative care.

Reform in 2014

Some of the biggest reform will come within the year 2014:

  • Rules will be established that require insurance companies to accept all applications and Medicaid programs will be greatly expanded.
  • Any family earning a maximum of 400% of the poverty level will receive some help in the form of subsidies in order to buy health insurance. At the moment, the 400% level sits at just under $90,000.
  • Employers that employ more than 50 workers could be fined substantial amounts for not providing insurance coverage.
  • Most American citizens will be required by law to have some form of insurance coverage or risk facing penalties.

Reform in 2018

  • 40% percent tax will be added towards high-end insurance policies.

Reform in 2019

The effects of health care reform should be clear and evident at this point. The over 30 million Americans who were once uninsured will be receiving help and accessing health care that is simply unattainable as of 2010.

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