Health Overhaul Benefits Take Effect with New Year

Health Overhaul
Nell Redmond/APHoward Kraft looks over health care information in his Lincolnton, N.C. home Monday. A painful spinal problem left him unable to work as a hotel bellman, but Redmond has coverage because federal law now forbids insurers from turning away people with health problems.
By JULIET WILLIAMS

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- After a troubled rollout, President Barack Obama's health care overhaul now faces its most personal test: How will it work as people seek care under its new mandates?

Most major pieces of the Affordable Care Act take full effect with the new year. That means people who had been denied coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition can book appointments and get prescriptions.

Caps on yearly out-of-pocket medical expenses will mean people shouldn't have to worry about bankruptcy after treatment for a catastrophic illness or injury. And all new insurance policies must offer a minimum level of essential benefits, ranging from emergency room treatment to maternity care.

The law's benefits apply to individual policies as well as those offered through employers.

But one benefit didn't take effect as expected after Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor late Tuesday night temporarily blocked the part of the law requiring some religious-affiliated organizations to provide their workers with insurance that includes birth control. Government officials have until Friday to respond to her emergency stay.

Administration officials said this week that 2.1 million consumers have enrolled through the federal and state-run health insurance exchanges that are a central feature of the Affordable Care Act. Millions more have been enrolled in Medicaid, after the federal law allowed states to expand the health insurance program for the poor.

Yet how many of those who signed up for coverage on the exchanges will follow through and pay their premiums won't be known for a couple of weeks. People who signed up on the federal website have until Jan. 10 to pay premiums for coverage retroactive to Jan. 1, while consumers in some states have until Jan. 6.

Those who enrolled during the exchanges' first three months, persisting through serious technological problems and jammed call center phone lines,
are probably motivated to make sure they have a policy in place as soon as possible, said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, which advocates for lower-income people and supports the federal health care changes.

"These are people who made a point of signing up and signing up before the deadline so they could start on Jan. 1. That suggests to me that that will be a population that is more likely to follow through with the payment," he said.

Premiums paid after the deadline will be applied to coverage starting Feb. 1 or later. Consumers have until March 31 to sign up in time to avoid a federal tax penalty for remaining uninsured. That fine starts at $95 for an individual this year but climbs rapidly, to a minimum of $695 by 2016. There is an additional fine for parents who don't get health insurance for their children.

Although the federal website is apparently fixed for consumers, the start of the year still could bring plenty of confusion.

Insurers say they are receiving thousands of erroneous sign-up applications from the government, and some people who thought they had enrolled for coverage haven't received confirmation. Undoubtedly, some will find out they don't have the immediate coverage they thought they did.

Some states, including Minnesota and Rhode Island, extended their sign-up period until the final day of 2013, leading to a last-minute crush of paperwork for insurers. Call center wait times in Minnesota extended beyond two hours Tuesday, a possible sign of heavy consumer interest.

Anticipating disruptions, major drug store chains such as CVS (CVS) and Walgreens (WAG) have announced they will help customers who face coverage questions, even providing temporary supplies of medications without insisting on up-front payment. Many smaller independent pharmacies also are ready to help.

Some parts of the Affordable Care Act took effect previously, such as the ability of young people to remain on their parents' insurance policies until age 26.

Others have been delayed until 2015, including the law's requirement that companies with 50 or more workers must provide affordable coverage or pay fines. The administration says it's trying to iron out burdensome reporting requirements.

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56 Comments

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evans.mom

Where's that badsomey guy? He sounds like my type of guy. Gullible and dumber than dumb. He could be my sugar daddy--if he can get passed the smell and that lump of garbage that lives in my basement.

January 02 2014 at 2:41 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
evans.mom

My hoo hoo itches.

January 02 2014 at 2:31 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to evans.mom's comment
evans.mom

I need to grap a bus ride to the clinic. Evan find my welfare bus pass.

January 02 2014 at 2:35 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
skcarcomed_0

I'll be back when Somehole and his freeloading friend come up with some new material or in other words some new lies.

later..................................................................................................

January 02 2014 at 2:07 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to skcarcomed_0's comment
redstateredneck.hillbilly

Are you going to buy food with your food stamp card ?

January 02 2014 at 2:11 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to redstateredneck.hillbilly's comment
evans.mom

Evan you no good lazy piece of trash. Get off the computer and get a job!

January 02 2014 at 2:29 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down
skcarcomed_0

Only -1 LOL. You're slowing down. LMAOOOOOOOOOOO

You idy ............................... ot.

January 02 2014 at 2:06 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
skcarcomed_0

redstateredneck.hillbilly
You buy MD 20/20 and squares with your EBT card,.......skcarcomed_0 ?

)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

Always looking for a hand out. What a freeloader you are.

January 02 2014 at 2:05 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to skcarcomed_0's comment
redstateredneck.hillbilly

Yes,..........we redstaterednecks love are food stamps and welfare an yet we vote conservative.

January 02 2014 at 2:10 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to redstateredneck.hillbilly's comment
evans.mom

Quit your lying son. You know that we use the most food stsmps and welfare.

January 02 2014 at 2:33 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down
skcarcomed_0

redstateredneck.hillbilly
Yeah,....it's pretty bad down here in South Carolina. I work full time and get to collect food stamps.

)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

So you work for Aramark and collect food stamps too. Maybe a call needs to be made to the Illinois department of public aid and let them know you're scamming the system. You really don't have to worry though. You lied when you posted you worked for Aramark. Too bad. That may have been your chance to get off the gravy train and start paying your fair share.

January 02 2014 at 2:04 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to skcarcomed_0's comment
redstateredneck.hillbilly

skcarcomed_0,..........you must be blind as a bat. There are a lot of people down here in the south that collect welfare and food stamps.

January 02 2014 at 2:07 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to redstateredneck.hillbilly's comment
evans.mom

Evan come upstairs and change my depends son. I'll let you eat my hot pocket again.

January 02 2014 at 2:30 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down
skcarcomed_0

Somehole posts that his own mother's a leach and the ungrateful bum refers to her as scare crow.

January 02 2014 at 2:00 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
skcarcomed_0

redstateredneck.hillbilly
I'm not your uncle. I know there is a lot of inbreeding going on down here in the south. If you come down here you may find your inbred sister, brother and uncle.

))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

It's evident that there's a lot of inbreeding going on in your section 8 apartment in the sinkhole state where you live. SIMP.

January 02 2014 at 1:59 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
skcarcomed_0

redstateredneck.hillbilly
Your not working now ? How much is your EBT card balance ?

))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

So yours is not enough? Wow how greedy. If you only had that job at Aramark you would be able to pay your own way and start paying your fair share and stop freeloading.

January 02 2014 at 1:58 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
skcarcomed_0

redstateredneck.hillbilly
skcarcomed_0,.......you get welfare and food stamps ?

))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

No you bigot. I work to fund yours so you can sit on your lazy hide all day. Now if you could just get Aramark to get you on their work schedule. LOL. Maybe you should try applying first before you post a lie that you worked there.

January 02 2014 at 1:54 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to skcarcomed_0's comment
redstateredneck.hillbilly

Your not working now ? How much is your EBT card balance ?

January 02 2014 at 1:56 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to redstateredneck.hillbilly's comment
skcarcomed_0

Why did you spend all yours up on forty's, MD 20/20 and squares?

January 02 2014 at 2:01 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down
redstateredneck.hillbilly

You buy MD 20/20 and squares with your EBT card,.......skcarcomed_0 ?

January 02 2014 at 2:03 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down