Six Months of the Affordable Care Act: Real Rights, Real Protections, Real Benefits for Real People

By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Posted September 22, 2010

In the six months since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, we have been hard at work implementing the law and focusing on putting consumers ahead of insurance companies.

Already, millions of Americans are seeing the benefits:

  • Nearly 4 million employees working for  small businesses can benefit from small business tax credits to help employers cover their employees.
  • Thousands of uninsured Americans who had been locked out of the market due to pre-existing conditions have signed up for the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan.
  • More than 2,000 businesses have been accepted into the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, which provides them much needed financial support to continue coverage for retired Americans not yet eligible for Medicare. 
  • More than one million Medicare beneficiaries have received a $250 check to help them afford the cost of prescription drugs in the Part D 'donut hole' coverage gap. 

We’ve also kept a close eye on insurance companies, calling out unjustified premium increases and encouraging them to put in place common sense policies.

This week, there a number of other benefits are beginning to take effect, charting out new rules of the road for health insurance companies:

  • Putting an End to Insurance Company Abuses: If you pay your premium every month, they won't be allowed to take away your health insurance just because of a mistake in your paperwork. 
  • Ensuring Benefits for Patients.  Patients will be able to get the care they need without lifetime limits capping their insurance benefits.  And eventually, they won’t face annual benefit limits either.  In many plans, you’ll have access to preventive services without cost sharing and new rights to appeal decisions by your insurance company that deny you benefits.
  • Coverage for Kids and Young Adults. Nearly all insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage to children due to pre-existing conditions.  And if an insurance plan covers dependents, they’ll have to cover most young adults up to age 26.

We still have a long way to go until 2014, when the new health insurance Exchanges are in place, and additional provisions get us closer to all Americans having access to affordable, quality health insurance.  But we are making big steps in the right direction, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.