During the many months of talking, yelling, finger-pointing and partisan spinning about the best way to reform our health care system, it was hard for Americans to actually understand exactly how any sort of overhaul would affect them. Given how often things were moving and changing, even this blogger -- who covers health care as one of her beats -- found it difficult to stay on top of what the various bills meant to consumers, and what provisions were in or out.
With all that noise finally behind us, it's now possible to focus in on how the newly-definitive details will affect Americans. So here’s a look.
Most of the major provisions of the legislation, including a requirement that most Americans purchase insurance or pay a penalty, do not go into effect until 2014. Yet there are a few big benefits that will kick in this year. Here are three of them:
- Many young adults will be allowed to remain on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26.
- Senior citizens who fall into the Medicare "doughnut hole" will get some help in paying for their prescriptions.
- People with pre-existing medical conditions that left them struggling to find affordable coverage in the past may now be able to get it through a government program.
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