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Key provisions of Affordable Care Act near

Key provisions of the Affordable Care Act are set to take effect impacting millions of Americans.
Key provisions of the Affordable Care Act are set to take effect impacting millions of Americans.

Thomas Campbell, M.D. is the Chief of Family Medicine for Rochester's Highland Hospital.  He discussed the goals of the act, how they've been achieved to date, and how they will be addressed by the new provisions Thursday morning on News 8 at Sunrise.

The Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, was passed in 2010 with the goals of increasing access to healthcare, improving the quality of healthcare and lowering the cost of healthcare for consumers.

To date, several aspects of the law have taken effect.  Young adults under the age of 26 are covered under family policies.  Children with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied health insurance.  All preventative care, like mammograms and pap smears, is covered.  Seniors pay less for prescription drugs and there is no lifetime limit to benefits.

Campbell said the law's most important changes are yet to come in 2014.  They include a massive expansion of Medicaid to cover most, but not all, uninsured New Yorkers.  State health insurance exchanges will offer plans at significantly lower rates.  The individual mandate for insurance takes effect on January 1, 2014 meaning everyone must purchase health insurance if they don't already have it.  The state health insurance exchanges, where plans can be assessed, will go live on October 1, 2013.

If you have health insurance and are happy with it no action is required.  If you are uninsured, you must sign up for a plan between October and January.  If you have an expensive insurance plan, you will have the option of switching to a more cost-effective option offered by the state health exchange.  There will be four levels of benefits offered there - bronze, silver, gold and platinum - with different costs. 
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