Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act
On June 28, 2012 a historic decision was made by the United States Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA was originally approved by Congress and was then signed into law on March 23, 2010. The law was designed to make many changes to the way the healthcare and insurance systems work in the United States, with most of the scheduled changes requested to be implemented within a four-year period, or by the end of 2014.
The Supreme Court decided that the law as a whole can be deemed “constitutional” and should be upheld. There are a few key provisions that must further be investigated, which will need to be closely evaluated to determine how this will impact different areas of implementation of the ACA. The two major areas of interpretation are:
MSAA has identified some key areas of the ACA which will directly impact individuals living with MS.
- People can no longer be denied health insurance based on a pre-existing condition.
This is set to take effect in 2014 for adults and has already been implemented for children. In the interim, Pre-existing Health Insurance Plan (PCIP) policy options are available to individuals with pre-existing conditions. Please visit https://www.pcip.gov/ for more information.
- Individuals ages 26 and younger have the option to remain on their parent’s health insurance policy (took effect in September 2010). States have the option to increase the age limit.
- The Medicare Part D “Donut Hole” will be closed
This is a provision which will be gradually implemented. Each year until 2020 when the “Donut Hole” is closed, individuals on Medicare Part D will receive additional savings on brand name and generic drugs.
- Prohibits Insurance Companies from Rescinding Coverage
It is considered illegal to rescind a person’s health insurance based on technical errors, which frequently occurred after individuals became ill (took effect in September 2010).
- Eliminated Lifetime Limits on Insurance Coverage
Insurance companies are prohibited from imposing lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits, such as hospital stays (took effect September 2010).
- Eliminates Annual Limits on Insurance Coverage
Will make it illegal for insurance providers to limit annual dollar amounts on the coverage an individual may receive (will take effect in 2014).
- Electronic Health Records and Information Exchange
Will institute a series of changes to standardize billing practices for health providers and requires health providers to implement rules for the secure electronic exchange of health records and information. The goal is to reduce paperwork, medical errors, and ultimately to improve the quality of medical services. This will be implemented in stages beginning October 2012.
MSAA is hopeful that any changes impacting the healthcare system provide better program efficiency and service to help patients achieve the best outcomes possible. For more updates please visit the United States Supreme Court website or the Supreme Court Blog.