Traverse City Record-Eagle

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May 23, 2012

Forum: New health care law is improving lives

The new health care law — the Affordable Care Act — has been in place for about two years and has made a number of major changes benefiting Michigan families and business. Here's how.

If your children have a pre-existing condition or disability, the Act now prevents insurance companies from discriminating against kids by denying coverage.

Starting in 2014, adults in Michigan with a pre-existing condition will be protected from this discrimination, too.

If you have private insurance coverage, the Affordable Care Act enhances the coverage you receive. Insurers are banned from imposing lifetime limits on your policy and from dropping you because of an honest mistake on your application.

The Act now requires insurance companies to spend more of your premium dollars on medical care rather than administrative costs like marketing and lobbying.

The new Medical Loss Ratio says that for large insurance companies, 85 cents of every premium dollar must be spent on medical care and for small companies, 80 cents must be spent.

If an insurance company doesn't meet this standard, they have to pay a rebate to their customers in the amount they overspent on administrative costs.

In 2012, $18.9 million is being returned from insurance companies that failed to meet this standard.

The new health care law is helping every woman in Michigan to be insured at lower cost. Starting in 2014, insurance companies won't be able to charge higher premiums simply because you are female.

Under the old law, insurance companies routinely charged a healthy woman more than a healthy man simply because of their gender.

If you're a small business owner with 25 employees or less, you can right now receive a 35 percent tax credit to help pay for health insurance for your employees. In Michigan last year, 148,300 small businesses with fewer than 25 employees qualified for tax credits to help with the cost of coverage.

If you're a young adult, the new law now allows you to remain on your parents' health plan up to the age of 26.

Here in Michigan, 57,527 young adults have already taken advantage of this provision.

Finally, if you're a senior, the Act improves your Medicare in two wonderful ways.

Medicare now covers preventive care services such as mammograms and colonoscopies at no additional cost.

For seniors who require extensive prescription drugs, the Health Care law is closing the "donut hole" so more seniors are saving money. In 2011, 84,168 Michigan seniors on Medicare Part D received prescription drug discounts totaling $48.9 million when they hit the "donut hole" coverage gap.

Please share with family and friends how the new health care law is improving the quality of care they are receiving. You can visit the web site at: www.healthcare.gov, to find out more.

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