Affordable Care Act Update: One Part Delayed; Open Enrollment on Schedule for October

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A delay in favour of businesses has put the Affordable Care Act front and center in everyone's minds again today. The change in policy pushes back the deadline for businesses with over 50 workers to be required to provide health insurance to employees.

The Treasury announced in a late Tuesday blog post that the act's provision requiring employers to provide health insurance for workers or pay a penalty would be delayed a year, from the end of 2014 until the end of 2015. Mark J. Mazur, assistant secretary for tax policy at the Treasury, wrote that the extra year will allow the administration to consider how to simplify employer requirements and create more time to make sure the law could be implemented smoothly.

Other aspects of the Affordable Care Act are still set to unroll on schedule, including many programs that specifically benefit women.  If you've had decent insurance for years, you may not be impressed with the offerings, but for the millions who have had sub-par insurance or have opted not to seek preventative care due to costs, these changes could mean life or death.

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Image: Meddygarnet via Flickr

Amongst them are various screenings meant to catch problems when they're small instead of allowing them to snowball into a more-difficult-to-treat stage down the road.  Marketplace health plans must cover certain services "without charging you a copayment or coinsurance," and these include mammograms, cervical cancer screening, and osteoporosis screening.  But moreover, it includes things such as "breast cancer genetic test counseling (BRCA) for women at higher risk for breast cancer."  For those who complained that the general public can't afford the testing that a woman such as Angelina Jolie was able to utilize in order to assess her breast cancer risk, this new law will level the playing field.

The same goes for services covering children.  From hearing tests for all newborns to vaccines for kids to depression screening for teenagers, the coverage is once again aimed at preventative measures; catching problems when they're small in order to save money down the road.

The new health care law provides free preventative care, protects consumers from arbitrary rate increases from insurance companies, and covers children under a parent's plan until they are 26 years old.  For those with general good health, this new law may seem unnecessary.  But for those with preexisting conditions, the new law ensures that they can't be denied what those with good health have been able to utilize for years to off-set major health care costs: insurance.

On October 1st, the Health Insurance Marketplace will launch.  There will be a period of several months of open enrollment, with new health plans going into effect on January 1st.  The time to research what your state will be offering is now, before open enrollment begins. 

Have you taken the time to read up on your options and know what path you'll take, insurance-wise, when the new aspect of the law goes into effect?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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