Health Care Reform Updates
The Affordable Care Act has forever changed the way we do business and we are prepared for what is ahead. At Independence Blue Cross we’re putting reform into action and are well positioned to help lead the industry forward.
How the Health Care Law Affects You
The health care law will likely affect everyone in some way. Individuals will see expanded access to care. There will be millions entering the health insurance system — many for the first time. People with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied care, or charged more for their health insurance.
Most small businesses will need to make changes to their current plans to comply with the law. Larger businesses will see less impact to products and rates. But they will see new penalties for not offering the right level of coverage or for offering coverage that is not affordable based on an employee’s pay scale.
There will be no medical underwriting. Insurers must accept anyone who applies — a practice known as “guaranteed issue.” The law regulates rates. Insurers are required to include new standardized coverage — called essential health benefits — in all health plans for individuals and for persons whose insurance comes through small businesses.
Finally, the law introduces a new way to buy health insurance — the Health Insurance Marketplace.
The law is being phased in over a period of years that began in 2010 and concludes in 2020.
The IBC position on the health care law:
We fully support health care reform.
We have long believed that everyone should have health coverage regardless of health status. We believe the law is an important first step toward comprehensive reform. Many provisions of the reform law are positive, such as those that expand coverage of preventive care and that extend coverage for adult children who remain on their parents’ policies to age 26. In addition, the law will expand coverage to an estimated 30 million Americans who are uninsured.
But the law needs to do more than cover more Americans.
Health care reform must go beyond significantly expanding access to coverage; it must also help lower high health care costs, which some economists say is the number one threat to our nation’s economy. The cost of medical care continues to rise dramatically, an issue that is largely unaddressed by the law.
All stakeholders in health care — doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurers, government, and consumers — must work together to lower the cost of health care and raise quality.
Health insurance premiums are directly tied to medical costs. Two leading reasons why these costs go up are unhealthy lifestyles and aging. To lower costs, we need to find ways to encourage Americans to make healthy choices and protect their well being as they age. At IBC, we’re investing in effective ways to turn the cost curve around, but we can’t do it alone.
The law is just the beginning.
Passage of the health care law is just the start of real health care reform. There are challenges ahead as the law is implemented over a period of many years, and as we see how the law affects the health care system. At IBC, you can be confident that we’ll continue doing our part to raise the quality of care and lower the costs.