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The Affordable Care Act: How it Benefits You and Me

Rancho Bernardo resident Charlie Williams breaks down what the Affordable Care Act means for seniors, women, youth and more.

By Charlie Williams

On Friday, March 23, The Affordable Care Act will celebrate the second anniversary of its signing into law by President Obama. The Affordable Care Act  is already benefiting millions of people from infants to the oldest senior citizen in America today. The Alliance for Retired Americans has just released a bulletin laying out the many benefits already being enjoyed by Americans nationwide thanks to the Affordable Care Act with promises of more benefits yet to come.

Infants and young adults

Among the many benefits already being enjoyed by millions of Americans include free preventive care services for infant children. This provision requires insurance companies to cover comprehensive screening and preventive care including well-child visits. Also it is estimated that 14.1 million children age 0 to 17 will no longer be required to pay costs for those services and 2.5 million young adults can now stay on their parents' health care plan up to age 26 thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Women’s Care

Protecting women’s care is another provision already at work in the program. The act prevents insurance companies from charging women up to 150 times more than men for coverage for their health care plan. It also means the insurance company will no longer be able to use caesarean sections or domestic violence as a pre-existing condition to deny women health care coverage and they will no longer be able to drop coverage if a woman becomes sick. Currently, more than 20 million women have received preventive services, such as free mammograms, birth control aids and well child visits without the burden of co-payments thanks to the new Affordable Care Act. The new law also requires insurance companies to offer maternity and new born care. And the Affordable Care Act ends lifetime limits on health care coverage.

Senior Citizens

Senior citizens under Part D Medicare are benefiting greatly with the 50 percent discount on prescription drugs which have already saved  $2.1 billion for 3.6 million seniors who hit the donut hole in 2011. In California alone, 319,429 seniors saved $171, 983,735 in 2011 through Feb. 2, 2012. The Affordable Care Act also provided 32.5 million seniors with free preventive care benefits in 2011 as well as free annual wellness visits.  Meanwhile  Medicare Advantage premiums decreased 7 percent from 2011 to 2012  while enrollment in Part D Medicare increased thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Small Business Owners

The Affordable Care Act will benefit small business by lowering health care costs while providing more choices by allowing them to band together in health care exchanges that will be created in each state. This provision will  allow small businesses to receive the same premium rates as large companies. Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies charged small companies an average of 18 percent more in premiums than larger companies. In the last year 29 states received $700 million to establish the exchange, which will give American families and small business the same health insurance as members of congress now receive, according to USA Today. The Affordable Care Act also lowers the tax burden for 4 million small businesses to make health care more affordable.

Insurance Company Abuses

Finally, the Affordable Care Act ends the worst of insurance companies abuses such as denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition. The act provides 86 million Americans with free preventive care while ending lifetime limits on your coverage. It bans insurance companies from dropping coverage due to errors based on unintentional mistakes in their paperwork. The act makes sure that your premium dollars are spent on care, not profits for insurance companies. Insurance companies will now be required to spend 85 percent of your premium dollars on health care, not administrative cost and profits.

From Cradle to Grave

So Americans from the youngest among us to the most senior citizen should rejoice in what has already been put in place through the Affordable Care Act and look forward to the many other benefits yet to come. Social Security and Medicare both started out with far fewer benefits when first enacted benefits that we now take  for granted. The Affordable Care Act is not perfect and I would have preferred Congress enact a Single Payer plan, but the Affordable Care Act is a great start. The Massachusetts plan which is often compared to the Affordable Care Act remains very popular in Massachusetts. .

Join the Celebration

From March 19 to March 28 the Alliance for Retired Americans will be holding a nationwide week long celebration of the signing of the Affordable Care Act ending at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. Look for an event in your neighborhood and join the Alliance for Retired Americans and the many other groups in celebration of the Affordable Care Act. Those who might think things were better in health care protection before the Affordable Care Act  simply were not paying attention.

Charlie Williams is Chairman of the Field Mobilization Committee for the Alliance for Retired Americans and former Midwest States Political Director for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

dromedary March 23, 2012 at 03:03 PM
As a small business owner, --and we are, collectively, the back bone of the economy,--our rates for health insurance are beyond what many of us can pay. Not just more than we are willing to pay, but $30,000 dollars annually for 2 people. If small businesses can get group rates that would be comparable to large businesses we could regain a competitive edge. Again, small businesses are innovative and entrepreneurial heart of America.
Tony Padilla March 23, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Charlie, thank you and congratulations for reminding everyone about the importance of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Not many seniors are aware what this means to seniors and People who really benefit from this great program. Yesterday, I attended a monthly meeting with the National Association of Retired & Railroad Employees (NARVE) --a group of railroad retirees. Mostly, they do not get involved on issues other than issues affecting railroad workers. After chapter of my local NARVE Legislative Representative made the report on the benefits of the ACA much discussion was done on the partisan issues from illegal immigration to the second amendment rights which had nothing to do with the ACA in efforts to discredit the law as a socialistic law. When all discussion was done I was privileged to speak and made the point that we are merely members of a society who are covered under the law that regulates the medical coverage under same Social Program as everyone else. We also fall under the law that may affect Social Security by nature of our retirement pension benefits derived from Tier I of Social Security and Tier II from Railroad Retirement. After all said and done, I moved a motion to recognize the 2nd Anniversary of the ACA for which there were some opposition votes but the yeas votes prevailed and the motion was adopted. It was a healthy discussion but the majority prevailed. We advocate protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
D James March 24, 2012 at 06:24 AM
INFANTS AND YOUNG ADULTS - "young adults can now stay on their parents' health care plan up to age 26 thanks to the Affordable Care Act." Well, the way I see it, at 26, you ARE an adult. I'd rather be celebrating their independence by having a JOB and getting their own health insurance rather than being DEPENDENT on Mom and Dad. Let's create jobs and focus on INDEPENDENCE ... then I'll celebrate!
AGorman March 26, 2012 at 05:29 AM
The US spends more on health care than any other industrialized nation (18% of GDP) yet 36 of those industrialized countries rank higher in overall quality of health care according to the World Health Organization. We're obviously not getting much bang for our buck. Our health care system is broken and reform of health care COSTS is sorely needed. Currently over half of all money spent on health care goes into administrative costs and insurance company profits. The California Universal Healthcare Act is designed to address that problem by completely eliminating the health insurance companies' position in between the California health care consumer (you and me) and the health care providers (doctors and hospitals) where they are able to exert control over the care provided as they extract billions of dollars in profits. It would set up the California Healthcare System which would collect the same federal, state, employer, and taxpayer funds currently going to the for-profit insurance companies, and pay today's doctors, clinics, and hospitals for the healthcare they provide. Those billions of dollars in profits would be eliminated as would a great deal of the administrative costs, substantially reducing health care costs for all Californians. The Affordable Care Act is a great start but there's still a long way to go. It reforms the health insurance industry in a number of important ways but does very little to reform overall health care system costs.
Commonsense March 27, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Finally--Clear thinking facts about the Affordable Care Act. Thank you Mr. Williams for spelling out the benefits of this important legislation that was passed by CONGRESS, (with many of it’s ideas originally coming from Republicans). One of the most important things that Mr. Williams article makes clear is that the Affordable Care Act will save everyone money in the long run. It prevents unnecessary illness and poor health in our children, students, new moms, workers and the elderly. It prevents insured people from having to pick up the tab for uninsured people on our premiums. It helps small businesses—the backbone of our economy. It keeps our citizens healthy and our country strong. I believe in the common wealth of the United States and not a dog eat dog world; or an every man for himself mentality. The Affordable Care Act is precisely what a common wealth can do for the benefit of all.
Sean Agnew March 28, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Fantastic definitions here. It's time we start putting humans back into the healthcare discussion. Happy second birthday ACA!

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