The health care reform bill's immediate effects

6:02 PM, Mar 22, 2010   |    comments
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If the bill is signed into law, more than a dozen elements would go into effect this year. They range from prescription drug rebates to benefits for small business employees.

Democrats say the bill includes important, immediate policies that people will care about. But, Republicans argue, there aren't enough people who would benefit from the changes by November. Some estimate only a couple million people would be eligible in the short term.

Effective this year, senior citizens would receive a $250 prescription drug rebate to help pay for their medication. Nearly four million Medicare recipients would be eligible for this.

Within 90 days, people with underlying medical conditions, who were originally denied insurance coverage, would be able to enroll in a federally-subsidized insurance program.

Child health care coverage would also be extended this year. Under the new bill, patients would be allowed to keep their kids on their plan until they turn 26.

Small businesses would also benefit this year. As long as they have fewer than 25 employees and average wages of less than $50,000, both employees and owners would be eligible for a tax credit of up to 35 percent of the cost of their premiums.

Those are some of the immediate effects. Big changes that affect tens of millions of people don't start until 2014, including rules that require insurers to accept all applicants, regardless of their medical history.

Also in 2014, individuals would have the option of keeping their current plan or buying coverage through new, soon-to-be-created state-run insurance marketplaces called "exchanges."

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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