Obamacare: What's already changed and in effect - KCTV5

Obamacare: What's already changed and in effect

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Right now in Washington, DC, there's a budget fight against the Affordable Care Act. It's over a House bill that would defund the healthcare law, while preventing a government shutdown. But parts of the Affordable Care Act have already passed and are currently in effect.

The changes that have already become law can have a big effect on a person's healthcare, but even insurance companies say not everyone understands them yet.

"Consumers are probably pleased with those types of changes, the awareness level of those changes is a different story," said Wayne Powell with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City.

Powell said Blue Cross Blue Shield has been busy lately trying to update customers about all the changes.

"We're are running at full speed," he said.

Perhaps the biggest change so far involves children.

"Children, who are now young adults, can now stay on their parent's insurance until they are 26. That's been a big improvement," said Bridget McCandless, MD, the president and CEO of Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

McCandless said 2.5 million young adults have hopped on mom or dad's insurance who could not have before.

"People talk about the economics of the new healthcare law, but one thing they don't talk about is the absolute opportunity and entrepreneurism that's going to come out of this. Young people can do whatever they want, whatever they love, not based on, 'Do I have to join a company that offers me health insurance?'" she said.

McCandless said the Affordable Care Act pushes many of the same goals as the Healthcare Foundation.

"Preventative health services are now much better covered than they were before," she said. "A number of people with preexisting conditions will be pleasantly surprised with the number of changes, that for the first time they may be able to qualify for very affordable healthcare, that they weren't before."

Another change dictates that insurance companies like Blue KC have to spend at least 80 percent of the money a person pays in to pay for their treatment.

"If we spend less than that, then a consumer gets a rebate. And if we spend more than that, we have to take a look at our practices and figure out how we can recover the cost and/or operate a little differently to try to hit that exact number," Powell said.

Powell said that can be a tricky number to hit because rates are often set more than a year ahead of time. He said the Affordable Care Act has already increased premiums for customers.

"Lots of the changes that have already gone into effect, while good for consumers, come at an extra cost. For us it's something we have to calculate into our prices, which get passed on to all of our insured people," he said.

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