Obamacare – What Does It Mean to the Average Jane and Joe?

The news headlines, blogs, twitter and other social networking sites are abuzz with the news of the United States Supreme Court upholding President Obama’s signature healthcare reforms. So much is being written and said about this decision but what does the healthcare reform law mean to the average person on the street?

What the experts say about Obamacare

According to the Wall Street Journal article, how the new healthcare law provisions pan out will depend upon which way the November elections go. The Republican candidate has promised to overturn the law if elected, but it is not clear what provisions will be overturned and what will be allowed to remain.Obamacare

Some of the benefits under the new law are already in place and will continue to operate. For instance parents can currently keep their children on their own health insurance plans up to the age of 26 and this will continue. Prescription drug discounts and taxes levied on services such as tanning will also continue.

The more significant changes that require most Americans to be covered by insurance will come into effect only by 2014. However since the Supreme Court ruling mandated that states can opt out of the Medicaid expansion scheme, there may be fewer individuals actually covered by the scheme.

What is being lauded about the reforms is that even those with preexisting medical conditions will be entitled to insurance – insurance companies will not be able to refuse coverage. Also lower income individuals will be eligible for tax credits to set off their insurance costs. Companies who employ more than 50 individuals will be required to offer insurance by law; or pay a fine.

What is the effect of Obamacare?

The reforms are likely to have huge political implications and are likely to polarize the electorate. Their effect on the ground will be that about 9 in 10 eligible Americans will be covered – about 30 million people who are currently uninsured will be insured.

Though everyone will have to be insured or pay a penalty, those who cannot afford the premiums required to be paid for their coverage, may be eligible to receive subsidies. Smaller businesses may find it easier to offer insurance coverage to employers because of newly created insurance markets.

Women will also benefit because they will not be required to pay more. Lower income people will benefit from Medicaid expansions and people with preexisting medical conditions will benefit because insurers will no longer be able to deny them insurance.