The 2,400 page Affordable Care Act, now known as Obamacare, is difficult to decipher not just because of its length but also because of the legalese it contains. 2011 included an attempted House of Representatives repeal of the act and several court cases challenging its constitutionality. Those cases are in disarray with some courts ruling it constitutional while others disagree.
This law is one of the most far reaching and profound pieces of legislation passed and signed into law in decades. In 2012 Medicare health care providers will be able to start affordable care organizations to cut costs and improve quality of care. Other major provisions won't be effective until 2014, but big changes in health care insurance have already been implemented.
For example, senior citizens started paying 50% less in prescription drug costs under the new law. That was due to drug company discounts worked out under the law. Seniors can also receive annual exams and some screenings without having a co-pay.
Insurance for those with pre-existing conditions, a huge health care insurance gap in previous years, became available. Those patients could join the government's Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. Premiums dropped from an average of $390 a month to $234 a month. Older people weren't the only ones who were helped by the act.
The law allows young adults between the ages of 19 and 25 to stay on their parents' health insurance policies. Proponents of the law say this has made it possible for young people to take jobs in fields they like rather than to take jobs mainly to get the benefits they want. Young people, too, are permitted by the law to maintain health insurance despite pre-existing conditions.
The Supreme Court is slated to consider the constitutionality of the law this year and has allotted an astounding 5 hours for oral argument.