Relief, confusion as new health benefits begin


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — After a troubled rollout, President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul now faces its most personal test: How will it work as people seek care under its new mandates?

Most major pieces of the Affordable Care Act took full effect with the new year. That means people who were denied coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition can book appointments and get prescriptions.

Caps on yearly out-of-pocket medical expenses will mean people shouldn’t have to worry about bankruptcy after treatment for a catastrophic illness or injury. And all new insurance policies must offer a minimum level of essential benefits, ranging from emergency room treatment to maternity care.

The benefits apply to individual policies as well as those offered through employers.

The burden for implementing the law now shifts to insurance companies and health care providers.

Dr. John Venetos, a Chicago gastroenterologist, said there is “tremendous uncertainty and anxiety” among patients who have been calling his office, some of whom think they signed up for coverage but have not yet received insurance cards.

 

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