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Explaining the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act was created to support families by making health insurance more affordable and accessible.
Nebraska currently has a historic opportunity under the Affordable Care Act to improve our health care system for working families.  As the Legislative Session nears, it’s important to know what it is we’re talking about.  There are three major components of the ACA to pay attention to:

1. ) Expanding Medicaid

The ACA allows states to expand Medicaid coverage to persons under the age of 65 who have incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL). By expanding the Medicaid program, over 78,000 uninsured Nebraskans who can’t afford and don’t qualify for private coverage or tax credits, will be covered.

Currently, there are gaps between the poorest Americans and those who make enough to afford coverage. Without the expansion, there will be a larger gap for people who fall between current Medicaid eligibility about 60% and 100% of the FPL where they qualify for the exchange.

2.) The health care exchange

The health care exchange is a marketplace where individuals can purchase health insurance. People with incomes between 100-400% of the federal poverty level can also apply for tax credits to help pay for insurance premiums.  When deciding on a health insurance plan, insurance companies must use information that is easy to understand and compare multiple options. The health insurance application process itself will also be simplified as individuals will only be required to fill out one application and be able to follow a system of choice: online, over the phone, on paper, or in person.

While Nebraska has already chosen to allow the federal government to create the exchange for Nebraska, it will be important to monitor its implementation and the interaction with Medicaid going forward.

3.) Other ACA benefits 

Once the law is fully implemented, both children and families cannot be denied health care coverage due to pre-existing health conditions. This includes chronic illnesses and intensive treatments such as chemotherapy. In addition, there will no longer be lifetime caps on coverage for individuals ealing with drawn out health care issues and treatments.
For more information, a fact sheet is available via Nebraska Appleseed or our infographic on what healthcare will look like in 2014.

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