When President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Health Care Act into law in 2010, it made it possible for people with preexisting conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and a host of other chronic illnesses and conditions to obtain health insurance — and keep it — because insurers could no longer deny them coverage, or set premiums based on how healthy they are.
There were other immediate benefits, too. The law allowed parents to continue to cover their college-aged children on their health plans until he or she is 26.
In fact, before the AHCA was signed into law many health plans and issuers could, and did, remove young adults from their parents' policies because of their age, leaving many college graduates and others with no insurance.
College-aged young adults make up the highest rate of uninsured. Yet, one in six young adults have a chronic illness like cancer, diabetes or asthma.
About 30 percent of young adults are uninsured, representing more than one in five of the uninsured — higher than any other age group with a rate three times higher than the uninsured rate among children.
The law also removed lifetime caps on the amount of benefits a person could receive. Before the law, a child with a chronic illness could “use up” the amount of benefits any insurer would allow him or her during a lifetime before they reached adulthood. This would leave him or her uninsured for the remainder of their lives.
But the public policy was engineered to roll out in phases over several years, meaning some people might not realize tangible benefits right away.
One such benefit is stronger consumer protections written into state-based insurance exchanges. The exchanges are scheduled to go into effect in 2014 and will be set up to make it easier for individuals and small businesses to shop for health insurance.
A new analysis supported by the private foundation, The Commonwealth Fund, shows when the AHCA state exchange system is implemented, more than half of Americans with individual market health insurance plans will be able to get better coverage.