This week witnessed a historic change in government policy. Obama’s health care bill was officially made law, much to his pride and joy and the dismay of many Republicans. Commonly referred to as the new health care or health care reform bill, it is officially H. R. 3590 Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act. Only time will tell how effective this law will be, and whether it will accomplish what Obama intends for it to. Here’s a look, though, at how it affects me.
I’m in a unique position. I’m an American citizen, and grew up mostly in the Knoxville, TN area. However, I’ve also lived in Austria, and have lived for the past six years in England. My husband is English, and my children are dual citizens. As an American who has lived with a socialized health care system, I know that although government control over health care isn’t perfect, it’s not all bad either. For example, both of my children were born here in England. My first daughter was delivered in an emergency C-section that required us both to stay in hospital for nearly a week, and then to have quite a few home visits from health carers after wards. In the States, we would have had a huge bill that would have crippled us financially, but as we have the NHS (National Health System) here, it didn’t cost us a penny, other than what we pay in taxes.
My husband and I hope to one day move to the United States. One thing that has concerned us about potentially moving there is health care. As I have already had two c-sections, it would be difficult for me to get good maternity coverage, and even if I could find insurance it would probably still be expensive with all of the co-payments, excesses, etc. Even more frighteningly, there’s a good chance that my husband would be classed as uninsurable and refused coverage by any private insurance company because he has M.E. (chronic fatigue syndrome, aka Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). This could put us in a difficult position.
As I understand it, the new health care bill guarantees that everyone will be able to have health insurance, either privately or through the new government schemes. This means that insurance companies can no longer routinely deny people coverage because of their health history, leaving people who need insurance the most without it. This is clarified in Sec. 2704 of the bill. For me, this means that there is a much better chance that if and when we move to the states, we will be able to get health care coverage for the entire family. Click here for ABC news’ explanation of how insurance companies will no longer be able to refuse coverage due to preexisting medical conditions (this takes effect immediately for children and in 2014 for adults).
Also, as it currently stands, the new health care bill puts a cap on the amount that any individual is required to spend on health care in co-payments and excesses (this is found in Sec. 2711 and Sec. 2718 of the bill). This means that although something like having another child would certainly be expensive for us, it would not leave us with the lifelong debt that we would previously have been faced with. For some people, this may not seem like a big change, but for many, this is a huge difference. As the government summary of the bill states, “All new policies will cap out-of-pocket spending to prevent bankruptcies from medical expenses.” To read the full summary, click here.
Is the new health care bill perfect? No, of course not. But I do believe that it will affect me and my family, and that it may even have a positive affect that can help us to have more affordable health care.
If you want to learn more about the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, click here to find out what will change about health care in America, and when these changes will take place.