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Key Consumer Questions About The Health Reforms

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How will actual health care coverage and services be different under Obamacare?

Coverage in the exchanges will be more comprehensive than what is typically available to individuals in the current health insurance market, which is dominated by bare-bones plans. It will resemble what a successful small business offers its employees. All plans in the exchange, and most outside it, will have to cover a standard set of benefits, including hospitalization, doctor visits, prescriptions, emergency room treatment, and maternal and newborn care. Under the law, insurers can't turn away people or charge them more because of health problems or chronic illnesses. Insurers also are banned from setting different rates based on gender. Middle-aged and older adults can't be charged more than three times what young people pay, but insurers can impose penalties on smokers. Most health insurance plans have to cover certain preventive services. Those include routine vaccinations, vision and hearing tests for children, and screenings for diabetes, high cholesterol, colon cancer and high blood pressure.

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I currently have insurance through my employer. Will anything change?

For many people who have health insurance through their employer, the Kaiser Family Foundation says not a lot is expected to happen right away. Some workers may receive a financial break from the new cap on out-of-pocket expenses and free preventive care. But some larger companies, those with 50 or more employees, already are looking for ways to cut costs and avoid getting hit with a new tax set to take effect in 2018 on so-called "Cadillac" insurance plans. Those are defined as plans valued at $10,200 or more for individual coverage and $27,500 for family policies. United Parcel Service, for example, informed its white collar employees that it will no longer cover spouses if they can get coverage through their own employers. Delta Air Lines, meanwhile, recently predicted its workers may have to help shoulder the cost of various new mandates under the Affordable Care Act, such as coverage for employees' children until they are 26 years old and coverage for workers who had previously opted out but will now be required to have health insurance.

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