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Health care reform bill and the uninsured

If you are uninsured, you have access to new insurance choices in the same insurance marketplace where all members of Congress buy their insurance, receive tax credits to help you afford coverage if needed, and get protections from insurance company abuses like denying you coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

Can I afford coverage?

A: In the past if you don’t have health coverage, insurance companies can charge you whatever they like and there is no limit. They can even refuse to sell you a policy at their whim.  The health insurance reform bill change all of that.

Under the new law, there will be limits on how much a person will have to pay to receive health care coverage.  Depending upon your income, you like tens of millions of other Americans may be qualified for a tax credit, which is intended to help pay for your coverage.

The health care reform bill prohibits insurance companies from saying "no" and they need to offer coverage regardless of your current health status.  They can increase rates or drop you from your coverage when you get sick.

Can I get insurance if I have a pre-existing condition?

A: Yes.

The health care reform bill ends the practice of insurance companies denying you coverage based you health status.

Soon after the law is enacted, insurance issuers will no longer be allowed to deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.

This year, if you have had insurance for 6 months and have a pre-existing condition, you can have access to health insurance under a new program that would be otherwise unavailable to you.  A high risk pool will provide insurance for Americans who are uninsured and have a pre-existing condition.

The program will offer temporary protection to people with pre-existing conditions until 2014 when insurance companies will have to offer you coverage regardless of your health status.

Am I going to be forced into a government plan?

A: No. 

Under the health care reform bill, you will be able to choose from private insurance plans in the insurance exchange---a marketplace where members of Congress will also buy their insurance coverage.  Additionally, the market will be more consumer-friendly.  

Right now, one or two insurance issuers dominate a market, but soon this situation will change and you will have more affordable choices.

How will I know which plan is best for me?

A: A new website will be set up to help you make an informed choice based on your needs.  The new insurance marketplace will also provide consumer assistance offices to help you understand the available choices and help you make an informed decision.

Can I buy insurance in another state?

A: Yes. 

If you live in a State that is part of an inter-state compact, you can purchase coverage in a neighboring State at your own will. 

Will the government decide what treatment I can get?

A: No.   

The health care reform bill does not dictate that the government need to decide treatments for citizens.  You and your doctors will make treatment decisions.  The government will not interfere with your relationship with your doctors.

The questions and answers come from the white House/Barack Obama Administration, Slightly edited to simplify the messages.

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