Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Health care reform: Where to find a good summary (or several) of what's in the bill

We've been getting calls and emails for days from people who want more details on what the federal health reform law will do, for whom, and when.

We're working on several web pages that will address just that. In the meantime -- and in one handy place -- listed below are some of the most comprehensive and reader-friendly summaries we've seen so far.

First, though, here's an update on one of the biggest surprises about the legislation: That the wording left it unclear whether insurers could continue to deny coverage to children with pre-existing medical conditions. The intent was not to. But until last night, it was unclear whether insurers would accept such kids before 2014.

The Associated Press and others have now reported that the industry's top lobbyist said that insurers will accept new federal regulations aimed at dispelling the uncertainty over this issue. The headline says it all: Insurance industry agrees to fix kids coverage gap.

Here are some of the best summaries we've seen of what's in the law and how it would work:

HealthReform.Gov: Answers for families and small businesses: From the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, this is a brief but excellent overview of how the law will affect real-world situations. When does the free preventive care start? What about Medicare's "donut hole"? Will small businesses get tax breaks? Etc.
Kaiser Family Foundation: Summary of coverage provisions in the bill. Packs a lot of detail into three pages.
Kaiser Family Foundation: Summary of new health reform law: This is not light reading, although it's broken down nicely into handy sections (employer requirements, individual mandate, cost containment, etc.) Includes 13 pages of information.
The Christian Science Monitor: What Obama's new health care bill means for us: Breaks down the changes by year -- 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2018 -- in bulleted points.
The New York Times: How different types of people will be affected by the health care overhaul: Examines the bill from the perspective of different people: an older married couple with jobs and insurance, a jobless single woman, a self-employed single man, an uninsured young married couple, etc.
The White House: Health reform puts American families and small business owners in control of their own health care: As you can tell from the headline, this includes a lot of "why" to go with the "what." It breaks things down by policy goal, rather than by what happens when.
Kaiser Health News: Consumers Guide to Health Reform: Uses a frequently-asked-questions format, and includes a lot of good detail re: incomes, subsidies, and what happens when.
CNN: Answers to your questions on health care law: Also uses an FAQ format, but has a broad range of questions. For example, was the "doctors' fix" in the bill? Does the elimination of lifetime caps apply to existing policies? Will an HIV-positive person who cannot get coverage be able to now?
CNN: Timeline: When health care reform will affect you.

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