The What And When Of Health Care Overhaul
LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Good morning, Julie.
JULIE ROVNER: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Why don't we start with who sees the first benefits of this new law?
ROVNER: Now, it's important to note that small businesses are not required under this law to provide health insurance. The requirement is for individuals to have insurance. But the hope is that with these tax credits, more small businesses will be able to afford to provide insurance to their workers.
MONTAGNE: And what about some of the insurance industry abuses that we've heard so much about? When do those sorts of things stop happening?
ROVNER: Insurance companies will be barred from having what's called lifetime limits. Those are caps, usually a million or $2 million. That's very important for people who have very serious illnesses. And insurance companies won't be able to deny coverage of raise premiums for children with preexisting conditions starting this year. That won't be the case of the rest of the population until the year 2014. But Congress really wanted to show people some help before this year's elections.
MONTAGNE: Well, is there any help for the rest of the population between now and four-some years from now?
ROVNER: Yes. There's $5 billion in the bill to help create new high-risk pools for the rest of the population with health problems and can't get insurance now. This was an idea originally floated by Senator John McCain in the campaign in 2008. There are already existing state high-risk pools in most states, but premiums are generally very expensive, and the coverage often has long waiting periods of their own. So the hope is that this money will help bolster those high-risk pools until the rest of the bill takes effect.
MONTAGNE: Okay, Julie, let's jump, then, to 2014. What starts kicking in then?
ROVNER: Now most of the taxes are on the health care industry, this Cadillac tax that we keep hearing so much about on generous insurance plans. That actually won't take effect until the year 2018. That was delayed as a result of some of the negotiations.
MONTAGNE: Now, with 2,700 pages, I feel like there must be more.
ROVNER: There are lots more provisions to this bill, you know, interesting things like requiring calorie counts to be printed on menus. And we will be hearing more and we will be telling you more in the days and weeks to come.
MONTAGNE: Julie, thanks very much.
ROVNER: You're very welcome.
MONTAGNE: NPR's health policy correspondent, Julie Rovner.
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