You've probably heard lots of horror stories, outlandish claims, and outright lies about what the new health care reform law does. Here's a summary, originally published by Reuters, of the bill's actual contents:
WITHIN THE FIRST YEAR OF ENACTMENT
* Insurance companies will be barred
from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Life time
coverage limits will be eliminated and annual limits are to be
* Insurers will be barred from excluding
children for coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
* Young adults will be able to stay on
their parents' health plans until the age of 26. Many health plans
currently drop dependents from coverage when they turn 19 or finish
* Uninsured adults with a pre-existing
conditions will be able to obtain health coverage through a new program
that will expire once new insurance exchanges begin operating in 2014.
* A temporary reinsurance program is
created to help companies maintain health coverage for early retirees
between the ages of 55 and 64. This also
expires in 2014.
* Medicare drug beneficiaries who fall
into the "doughnut hole" coverage gap will get a $250 rebate. The bill
eventually closes that gap which currently begins after$2,700 is spent
on drugs. Coverage starts again after $6,154 is spent.
* A tax credit becomes available for
some small businesses to help provide coverage for workers.
* A 10 percent tax on indoor tanning
services that use ultraviolet lamps goes into effect on July 1.
WHAT HAPPENS IN 2011
* Medicare provides 10percent bonus
payments to primary care physicians and general surgeons.
* Medicare beneficiaries will be able to
get a free annual wellness visit and personalized prevention plan
service. New health plans will be required to cover preventive services
with little or no cost to patients.
* A new program under the Medicaid plan
for the poor goes into effect in October that allows states to offer
home and community based care for the disabled that might otherwise
require institutional care.
* Payments to insurers offering
Medicare Advantage services are frozen at 2010 levels. These payments
are to be gradually reduced to bring them more in line with traditional
* Employers are required to disclose the
value of health benefits on employees' W-2 tax forms.
* An annual fee is imposed on
pharmaceutical companies according to market share. The fee does not
apply to companies with sales of $5 million or less.
WHAT HAPPENS IN 2012
* Physician payment reforms are
implemented in Medicare to enhance primary care services and encourage
doctors to form "accountable care organizations" to improve quality and
efficiency of care.
* An incentive program is established in
Medicare for acute care hospitals to improve quality outcomes.
* The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Services, which oversees the government programs, begin tracking
hospital readmission rates and puts in place financial incentives to
reduce preventable read missions.
WHAT HAPPENS IN 2013
* A national pilot program is
established for Medicare on payment bundling to encourage
doctors,hospitals and other care providers to better coordinate patient
* The threshold for claiming medical
expenses on itemized tax returns is raised to 10 percent from7.5 percent
of income. The threshold remains at 7.5 percent for the elderly through
* The Medicare payroll tax is raised to
2.35 percent from 1.45 percent for individuals earning more than$200,000
and married couples with incomes over $250,000. The tax is imposed on
some investment income for that income group.
* A 2.9 percent excise tax in imposed on
the sale of medical devices. Anything generally purchased at the retail
level by the public is excluded from the tax.
WHAT HAPPENS IN 2014
* State health insurance exchanges for
small businesses and individuals open.
* Most people will be required to obtain
health insurance coverage or pay a fine if they don't. Health care tax
credits become available to help people with incomes up to 400percent of
poverty purchase coverage on the exchange.
*Health plans no longer can exclude
people from coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
* Employers with 50 or more workers who
do not offer coverage face a fine of $2,000 for each employee if any
worker receives subsidized insurance on the exchange. The first
30employees aren't counted for the fine.
* Health insurance companies begin
paying a fee based on their market share.
WHAT HAPPENS IN 2015
* Medicare creates a physician payment
program aimed at rewarding quality of care rather than volume of
WHAT HAPPENS IN 2018
* An excise tax on high cost
employer-provided plans is imposed. The first $27,500 of a family plan
and $10,200 for individual coverage is exempt from the tax. Higher
levels are set for plans covering retirees and people in high risk