We need to be smart about ‘Obamacare’

Sep 6 2013 - 11:43am

Love it or hate it, we need to be informed about the new health care law. It's known officially as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Many know it as "Obamacare." Regardless of what you call the ACA, it's the law. And, in spite of all we've heard, the odds are strong that the law will, in some way, prove to be of significant benefit to people in Utah. For those who already have insurance, you may notice little impact, but we owe it to ourselves, our families, and our businesses to do all we can to learn about the new health care law, find out what's in it that will help us, and make it work to our advantage in every way possible.

We are not saying that the ACA is perfect by any means, but we also know that reform in our health care system was crucial. The rising costs are unsustainable and a large percentage of health care is unnecessary or ineffective. Payment systems that reward the number of procedures over positive outcomes create the wrong incentives. Changes were needed to deliver care in a cost-effective manner that is beneficial to the patient. It's time to take the politics out of the ACA and look to what it will and won't do for individuals and small businesses.

AARP is making new resources available to all Utahns looking for facts about the health care law, including an information-rich website called HealthLawFacts.org for consumers to quickly find resources and detailed information on specific aspects of the law. In addition, AARP has created a new online tool called HealthLawAnswers.org -- a quick and easy way to get customized information based on where you live, gender, your family size, income, insurance status, and so forth. This tool is also available in Spanish -- MiLeyDeSalud.org. 

If you're a small business owner with less than 50 employees, you'll learn that you are not required to offer health insurance under the health care law and will face no penalties. But if you do offer coverage, you may be eligible for a significant tax credit to help you do so -- 35 percent of your insurance costs in 2013 and 50 percent in 2014. 

If you're on Medicare, you'll learn that the law requires Medicare to cover, at no cost to you, preventive annual immunizations, and screenings for cancer, cholesterol, diabetes, and more. And, if you're a taxpayer, you'll be happy to learn that the law greatly increases efforts to fight waste, fraud, and scams in Medicare.

If you're under 65 and not eligible for Medicare, you'll learn that beginning in 2014, private insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, or even cancer. 

And your children now can remain on your family insurance plan until they turn 26.

What's in the law that will benefit you? You may be skeptical of the changes ahead, but AARP encourages Utahns to find out and look for answers and information. 

We stand ready to help provide those answers.

Alan Ormsby is state director of AARP Utah.

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