|By Amanda Cuda, Connecticut Post, Bridgeport|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
But that's pretty much all the 20-year-old
Fortunately for him, under the federal health care reform legislation passed two years ago, he and his two older siblings can still be covered through their mother's insurance, even though they are considered adults.
Friday marks the second anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the sweeping health reform legislation that by 2014 is supposed to provide 32 million Americans with access to health insurance. That major piece of the legislation hasn't yet fallen into place, and its fate will depend largely on the
While insurers have already put some of the provisions in place, there are several things that still need to be done, including:
Creating by September user-friendly summaries of standard benefits for people shopping for coverage;
Preparing to sell coverage on state-based exchanges that will allow individuals and employees of small businesses to shop for insurance starting in 2014;
Offering coverage to everyone who applies, and ending the exclusion of people with pre-existing conditions starting in 2014;
Stopping pricing coverage based on a person's health status;
Starting to pay an industrywide insurer fee that begins at
Many effects of health reform have already been felt by thousands of state residents. For instance, there's the provision that allows Ebron and his siblings to get care -- children younger than 26 are now covered under their parents' insurance. According to the
"All of my kids are working on building their careers, and this is one less headache they'll have to deal with," she said.
Yet opinion on the legislation is mixed throughout the state. Many residents say they are still struggling with high insurance premiums and are skeptical about how they have been helped by health care reform.
BENEFITS OF REFORM
In addition to expanding coverage for young adults, the Affordable Care Act also provides new coverage options to those who have been uninsured for at least six months because of a pre-existing condition. As of the end of 2011, 163 previously uninsured residents of
As someone who has worked in medicine, Schnoll said he was outraged that it took this long for his son and people like him to get access to the care they need.
"To me, it was unconscionable that the insurance industry would turn him down," he said. "Without the Affordable Care Act, he still wouldn't have any coverage."
Other changes that have taken hold in the state include progress on establishing a health insurance exchange, through which currently uninsured consumers can shop for health plans.
Regardless of what happens with the
"Whether this law is overturned or not, we definitely need to make considerable changes, and we will continue to address these issues head-on," she said.
But some aren't so enthusiastic about the legislation, including
"My overall experience is that they haven't fixed health care," O'Hara said. "All they've done is create an environment of mandatory coverage."
The exact impact of health care reform on insurance premiums is unclear. In September of last year, the
The Aon report found overall average projected increases due to health reform were reported to be 1.5 percent for 2011. However, these increases varied depending on the plan, ranging from an increase of 4.7 percent for individual policies to 0.8 percent for large group policies.
Because of the increases, it's understandable people like O'Hara are frustrated with the health reform act and feel it does not have a positive impact on their lives, said
"Health care is still too expensive -- much more so than in almost any other country," he said.
Though Rother acknowledged there's still a long way to go before health care in this country is as affordable and accessible as it should be, the last two years have represented a step forward for many Americans. For example, while health care premiums are still a challenge for many, he pointed out that the act has taken steps to keep those rates manageable. One of the act's provisions requires insurance companies proposing a rate increase of 10 percent or more to publicly justify their actions. At least one insurer in
And while some complain about the costs, many others say they are grateful for what the act provides and look forward to further reforms.
"I'm definitely looking forward to additional benefits under federal reform," said
Many people the coalition serves likely couldn't afford their own coverage and have to go without insurance -- and, most likely, without medical care.
"We know how detrimental it is when a child or adult goes without insurance coverage or medical care," she said.
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