When the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in March 2010, a litany of new rules and regulations were put in place to govern the way major insurers offered healthcare coverage was to the general public. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was designed to fix a broken healthcare system where the costs of coverage were skyrocketing and, even if you could afford it, some individuals were still denied coverage altogether.
Those with preexisting conditions found themselves being denied policies. Insurance companies also had the freedom to deny treatment to those who were insured or drop individuals entirely when their health conditions deteriorated and they were subsequently deemed too high a risk to continue receiving their current coverage.
All of that is a thing of the past now, for the most part. The ACA has started to phase out health insurance plans that don’t meet the new minimum essential coverage standards.
However, not all plans have been eliminated entirely. Some policies were granted “grandfathered” status if they were purchased on or before March 23, 2010. In this case, plans need only abide by the regulations in place before the ACA went into effect.
The New Rules Under the Affordable Care Act
The biggest effect that the Affordable Care Act has on the insurance companies is through the new rules that they must abide by when offering policies to their customers.
First and foremost, insurers can no longer deny coverage to applicants nor treatment to current members due to preexisting conditions. Before Obamacare, an insurance company could look into your medical history and determine if you were too high a risk to take on due to any illnesses or conditions you may have had before or had at the time you applied for coverage. That is no longer legal.
If an insurance company drops a member from his or her plan, it may only be done as a result of fraud perpetrated by the insured. In the event this happens, a quick appeal is made available to the individual whose policy has been terminated.
There are other regulations in place as well with respect to benefits. There are no longer annual or lifetime limitations on the benefits that are paid out. Medical expenses can also be capped so that an individual doesn’t have to file for bankruptcy just because they or someone in their family required major medical care.
In addition, the insurance companies are not permitted to charge by gender, so women will no longer pay more than men just to get a policy that meets the standard for minimum essential coverage.
The Insurance Companies Still Have Some Power
The Affordable Care Act gives the insurance companies some options when offering policies to their customers. They are free to devise a menu of plans that can fit any customer’s medical needs and budget with premiums that are affordable while still offering enough coverage to comply with the ACA.
Furthermore, while the insurance companies are not allowed to charge by gender, they can charge more in consideration of your age. The older you are, the higher your premiums might be, and so younger customers will likely pay less for coverage.