Obamacare: How Does It Really Affect Blacks?

    Two of the nation’s largest insurers, United Healthcare and Humana, recently announced they would voluntarily maintain some aspects of health care reform, including coverage of adult dependents up to age 26, even if the law was scrapped.

    What the law means for: People with pre-existing conditions

    Since the law remains in place, the requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing medical conditions remains active.

    The law also established that children under the age of 19 could no longer have limited benefits or be denied benefits because they had a pre-existing condition.

    Starting in 2014, the law makes it illegal for any health insurance plan to use pre-existing conditions to exclude, limit or set unrealistic rates on coverage. It also established national high-risk pools that people with such conditions could join sooner to get health insurance.

    More than 13 million American non-elderly adults have been denied insurance specifically because of their medical conditions, according to the Commonwealth Fund. The Kaiser Family Foundation says 21% of people who apply for health insurance on their own get turned down, are charged a higher price, or offered a plan that excludes coverage for their pre-existing condition.

    What the law means for: All taxpayers

    No matter what the Supreme Court had decided, it would have been a mixed bag for all Americans when it comes to federal spending. There is still much discussion about what impact the health care law will have on the country over the long term.

    The federal government is set to spend more than $1 trillion over the next decade to subsidize coverage and expand eligibility for Medicaid. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the law could reduce deficits modestly in the first 10 years and then much more significantly in the second decade.

    The CBO said a repeal of the mandate could reduce deficits by $282 billion over 10 years, because the government would be subsidizing insurance for fewer people. But the nation faces costs in various ways for having people who are uninsured. The Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center has estimated that without a mandate, 40 million Americans would remain uninsured.

    Meanwhile, the Flexible Spending Accounts that millions of Americans use to save money tax-free for medical expenses will be sliced under the law. FSAs often allow people to put aside up to $5,000 pre-tax; as of 2013, they were to face an annual limit of $2,500.

    What the law means for: All Americans

    The massive health care law requires doctors to report goodies they get from medical supply companies; demands more breastfeeding rooms; requires all chain restaurants to list calories under every menu item, and includes other provisions, which now remain in place.

    What the law means for: Doctors and other health care providers

    Health care providers have already begun making changes based on the 2010 law, and in preparation for what will go into effect in 2014.

    In general, medical groups have disagreed over the health care law. In the short term, doctors avoid “chaos” that may have resulted from the law suddenly being dropped or changed, according to Bob Doherty, senior vice president of governmental affairs at the American College of Physicians.

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