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What is happening with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?

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Michigan Health Insurance Program is offering more options to people with pre-existing conditions.

Few things have been more politicized than the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

There’s a lot of misinformation and disinformation about the insurance program. We’re going to try to put politics aside and find out just what’s happening now and what will happen as it continues to be phased in.

Helen Levy is a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, the Institute for Social Research, and the Ford School of Public Policy. Thomas Buchmueller is a health economist and professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

They joined us today to talk about the insurance program.

“The goal is to reach as many as we can of the approximately 50 million people who have no health insurance. And so the way we’re trying to do that is by expanding access to individual health insurance coverage for people who could by their own coverage but don’t have an employer policy,” said Levy. “And we are also trying to target the uninsured and give them coverage by expanding the Medicaid program in some states.”

It is currently unknown as to whether or not Michigan will be one of those states.

According to Buchmueller, if Medicaid expansion is not approved, there will be a “hole” in Obamacare coverage and in the state budget. The expansion is estimated to lower state costs over ten years.

Already in place now with the Affordable Care Act is the ability to keep children on insurance plans until the age of 26, access to preventive care with a co-payment, increased quality reporting for hospitals, and delivery system reforms.

But there are more changes to come.

“The big new thing people should know about are these health insurance exchanges. That’s going to be a place where you can go buy health insurance coverage if you don’t get it from your job,” said Levy. “And if you’re lower income, you can get a subsidy from the federal government to get that coverage.”

Open enrollment for health insurance starts in October.

According to the both Levy and Buchmueller, once the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is in place, consumers with employer-sponsored insurance should not see any noticeable changes.

-Michelle Nelson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Listen to the full interview above.

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