Monday, 17 December 2012

US Government Announces Regulations for the Affordable Care Act

The Obama administration released the definitions on Tuesday for the Affordable Care Act, two years after the act was initially signed in 2010. They had been delayed as the government had been trying to avoid criticism and controversy before the election. However, the Health Reform regulations are not final, as the government have a 90 day comment period in which they could change their minds- involved participants can negotiate and amend them. This will end on the 26th of December and they will be implemented on the 1st of January 2014.

The Regulations

Insurers can no longer charge more for insurance or refuse service to people who have pre-existing or chronic health conditions. Insurers cannot charge senior citizens more than three times the amount they charge young people. At the moment, insurers in 42 states can charge seniors five or more times the amount they charge young adults.
Insurers to charge smokers more, as well as adjust premiums based on family size.
Insurers cannot use claims history, health status, gender and occupation to discriminate and increase premiums.
States are required to have ten essential benefits, such as prescription drug coverage or hospital care, provided in the new health care exchanges.
Employers to use wellness programs to promote health and try to control health care costs. Employers may reward people for annual exams or regular work outs, but they are prohibited from punishing those who don't engage in these activities.
Propose implementing and expanding employment-based wellness programs to promote health and help control health care spending, while ensuring that individuals are protected from unfair underwriting practices that could otherwise reduce benefits based on health status.

Essentially, Obama is attempting to reshape the existing system in which the average, as well as the anomalous American isn't discriminated against and their health isn't dictated by another, whether that is the insurer or their employer.

Alissa Fox, senior vice president of policy for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, says that insurers and employers have already begun implementing their packages to comply with the proposed rules, such as offering lower premiums to people who undergo wellness checks. In some cases, a wellness check that catches a heart condition early through a blood test could save an employer several thousand dollars. "The Affordable Care Act recognizes that well-run, equitable workplace wellness programs allow workers to access services that can help them and their families lead healthier lives," said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. "Employers, too, can benefit from reduced costs associated with a healthier workforce."

Private healthcare, covering treatments from physiotherapy to hernia surgery is something that British citizens have the privilege of choosing, and if they choose not to, they are looked after by the state free of charge. Of course, no system is perfect and there is wide criticism about the cost and quality of the NHS as much as America is crying out that they cannot afford ObamaCare.    

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