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Changes to the Affordable Care Act

Changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act took immediate effect last week when President Obama addressed the concerns of millions of Americans whose current insurance plans were cancelled in light of the new law.

Since October 1, 2013, when the Marketplace opened, millions of Americans have been dropped from their insurance plans; including over 150,000 South Carolinians. According to the President, those insurance plans were not compliant with the new insurance policy standard created under the Affordable Care Act. These standards, also known as the Essential Health Benefits dictate that every insurance policy must include services in at least these 10 areas:

1. Outpatient care
2. Emergency room
3. Hospitalization
4. Maternity and Newborn Services
5. Mental health and substance use disorder services:
6. Prescription drugs
7. Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices
8. Laboratory Services
9. Preventive and wellness services
10. Pediatric services (including dental care and vision care for kids)

President Obama announced last Thursday that those individuals who received a letter of cancellation from their insurance company might be able to keep their existing policy for another year. In doing so, the President extended the requirement that all insurance companies create new insurance policies that meet the Essential Health Benefits requirement until the end of 2014, giving Americans more time to shop around and prepare for these changes.

While this means that an individual who received a cancellation notice earlier this year may actually be able to keep their existing plan, health insurance companies are not required to continue to offer these cancelled plans. It is possible that a company that cancelled a plan will continue to enforce that cancellation, requiring that individuals purchase a new plan that meets the federal standards.

If you are one of the 150,000 South Carolinians who fall into this category, please contact your insurance company to see if they will continue to offer your current insurance plan or if you need to shop for new coverage.

If you need assistance with reviewing policies, prices, exemptions, and/or tax credits within the Marketplace, please view our schedule of Navigators at the Library for one-on-one in person assistance.

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