What the healthcare reform bill means to you, now

Did anyone catch C-SPAN last night?

Christ on a cracker, it was off the hook. Shouting. Motions to commit to kill the newly passed bill. Someone from Texas or California called Rep. Bart Stupak a “baby killer.” (The bill has provisions that no federal funds will be used to pay for abortions.) Rep. Boehner complained that a bill with more handwringing and public drama than probably any bill in our recent memory was actually cobbled together by some kind of a secret liberal cabal. It was like watching “Glee” but without the musical interludes!

Some drama queens on Twitter are calling it the end of democracy, failing to note that our Western world friends like the UK, Canada and Australia all live happily with the “death panels” and pity our expensive, scary system. But the question compelling most Americans this morning seems to be what passage of the bill means specifically to them.

The Ways and Means committee has put together a handy PDF outlining changes that will take place “immediately,” which seems to really mean over the next few weeks or months. Here are a few highlights from the list of changes we might see soon:

  • No more rescissions In six months, insurance companies won’t be able to craftily drop you when you get sick, one of the more odious elements of our for-profit system;
  • Kids with pre-existing conditions can’t be discriminated against, but why do these sick kids hate the free market and capitalism? Maybe they should just move to Sweden or Toronto.;
  • Bans lifetime coverage caps and annual coverage limits so you can get sick more than once! Progress, people. It looks like this;
  • Preventative care is encouraged, not punished. Wave goodbye to prohibitive co-pays or deductibles on the stuff that makes sure you don’t get expensively sick- in six months it won’t be part of a deductible;
  • Cutting off the money teat. Pretty soon, 80-85% of your premium has to go toward actual medical services, and not another yacht for Mr. Moneybags. Sounds like progress;
  • Interim high risk coverage for people who have been excluded due to pre-existing condition. Within 90 days, they have access to purchasing coverage;
  • Coverage under parents until “kids” are 26;
  • Leveling of the playing field for salary and benefits– higher wage workers won’t be favored in eligibility rules.

You can get the full rundown of the immediate provisions of HR 3590 at the House’s website. (PDF)

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