What should you expect from the healthcare reform today, tomorrow, and into the future?

Health Care ReformNo matter what you may think about the reforms from the Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010, the changes are already under way and they will continue on until they are required to be set in place in 2014.

By that time, Americans will all be required to have some form of healthcare insurance coverage. However, there are still a large number of people in the country who are not yet fully aware of what the changes entail and how they – and their families – will be effected by them. The following are some of the more significant alterations to the healthcare system:

• Affordable Insurance Exchanges – these are run on a state-by-state basis and are designed to provide consumers with an easier way to see what types of coverage are available to them and to compare their options and the associated premiums from one company to the next so that they can make the best choice to suit their needs. This can help both individuals and small businesses to shop and compare the various public and private health plans.

• Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) – this new regulation makes sure that even though an individual may have a pre-existing medical condition, he or she is still guaranteed to be eligible for health insurance coverage. Though the PCIP does change from one state to the next, what remains constant is that insurance companies are not permitted to penalize individuals with these policies for having pre-existing conditions by charging notably higher premiums or by refusing them coverage.

• Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-OP) – these are plans that are run by their members. Therefore an individual or small business may be able to purchase policies from consumer-run non-profit insurance providers. The goal is to have a plan that is focused on the needs of the members as a group so that their care access is improved.

• Healthcare for Young Adults – parents can now keep children covered up to the age of 26 regardless of whether or not they are still enrolled in education, or even if they are not dependent on them or if they are married.

Health and Human Services (HHS) has also announced that Americans will no longer run the risk of reaching lifetime limits on the amount of coverage they will receive from their health insurance for the treatment of serious medical conditions (for example, cancer). The reforms to the healthcare system have – according to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of HHS) eliminated the ability of insurers to cap lifetime coverage.

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