How can health care policy help you avoid medical debt?
In the last few years it’s become more and more apparent that making changes to the health care system is a monumental task.
As protesters for and against the federal health care law took to Washington’s Capitol before the measure passed last year…to the heated GOP primary race debates calling for the repeal of the law today, many are left wondering if it’s politically possible for the government to help them avoid mounting medical bills.
But as it stands now, the Affordable Care Act has several provisions that consumer advocates say will help keep Californians out of debt:
-Prohibiting insurance companies from retroactively canceling coverage when you become sick or make an unintentional mistake on paperwork.
-Young adults can remain on their parents’ health insurance policy until age 26.
-Children with pre-existing conditions, under the age of 19, cannot be denied health coverage.
-Elimination of lifetime or annual caps on the amount a health plan will pay for essential benefits for catastrophic or chronic illnesses.
View a complete timeline of changes already in place and future provisions.
The Affordable Care Act is slated for full implementation in 2014. At that time an estimated 2 million additional Californians will be eligible for government coverage through Medi-Cal. And a Health Benefit Exchange will be established to make it easier for people to find and afford health insurance.
Current state law:
California’s Hospital Fair Pricing Act has also been on the books since 2006. It requires that hospitals must give patients who are at 350% of the Federal Poverty Level a discount on their hospital bills if they are uninsured or underinsured. According to the law underinsured is when patients have to spend more than 10 percent of their income on medical expenses.
The Hospital Fair Pricing Act also requires hospitals to wait five months, from the first billing, before forwarding a patient’s account to a collection agency.