Published On: Dec 24 2013 06:43:51 AM ESTUpdated On: Mar 27 2014 02:08:57 AM EDT
Most of the attention has been on problems with the Affordable Care Act's website the past few weeks, but there's still much confusion about what the health care law will mean for families and small businesses.
Take a look at some of the law's most significant policies, consequences and facts, as compiled by The Washington Post and based off of information provided by The Kaiser Foundation.
1. By 2022, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the Affordable Care Act will have extended coverage to 33 million Americans who would otherwise be uninsured.
2. Families making less than 133 percent of the poverty line -- that's about $29,000 for a family of four -- will be covered through Medicaid.
3. Between 133 percent and 400 percent of the poverty line -- $88,000 for a family of four -- families will get tax credits on a sliding scale to help pay for private insurance.
4. For families making less than 400 percent of the poverty line, premiums are capped.
5. When the individual mandate is fully phased-in, those who can afford coverage but choose to forgo it will have to pay either $695 or 2.5 percent of the annual income, whichever is greater.
6. Small businesses that have fewer than 10 employees, average wages beneath $25,000, and that provide insurance for their workers will get a 50 percent tax credit on their contribution.
7. The tax credit reaches up to small businesses with up to 50 employees and average wages of $50,000, though it gets smaller as the business get bigger and richer.
8. Insurance companies are not allowed to discriminated based on preexisting conditions. They are allowed to discriminate based on age, premium rating area, family composition and tobacco use.
9. Starting in 2018, the law imposes a 35 percent tax on employer-provided health plans that exceed $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage.
10. The policy idea is to give employers that much more reason to avoid expensive insurance policies and thus give insurers that much more reason to hold costs down.
11. The law requires insurers to spend between 80 and 85 percent of every premium dollar on medical care (as opposed to administration, advertising, etc). If insurers exceed this threshold, they have to rebate the excess to their customers.
12. The law is expected to spend a bit over $1 trillion in the next 10 years. The law's spending cuts -- many of which fall on Medicare -- and tax increases are expected to either save or raise a bit more than that, which is why the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will slightly reduce the deficit.
13. As time goes on, the savings are projected to grow more quickly than the spending, and Congressional Budget Office expects that the law will cut the deficit by around a trillion dollars in its second decade.
14. In recent years, health-care costs have slowed dramatically. Much of this is likely due to the recession. Some of it may just be chance. But there also may be evidence that the law has accelerated changes in the way the medical system delivers care, as providers prepare for the law's efforts to move from fee-for-service to quality-based payments.
15. The law's long-term success at controlling costs will likely hinge on its efforts to change the way health care is delivered, most of which have gotten very little attention.
Click here to get more information about the Affordable Care Act.