Healthcare reform is one of today’s hot button medical topics –– from the water cooler to the boardroom, everyone’s talking about it, and everyone has a different idea of what’s in store.

Let’s take a quick look at what’s going on as the 2014 deadline for implementation draws closer …

First of all, healthcare reform (President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) was established to address the health insurance needs of Americans as health care and medical costs continue to rise astronomically in this country. For a typical American family, the average premium is almost $14,000 dollars a year…and growing. Premiums have doubled over the last nine years, and indications are that they will continue to rise. As a result, many Americans do without health care, and that is no longer acceptable. Everyone deserves healthcare, and health care reform will make sure everyone gets it.

In 2014, major changes to health care under the ACA include: expansion of Medicaid; health insurance tax credits for those who are eligible; the implementation of state-run Health Exchanges; and the mandate that everyone be required to buy health insurance, or pay a penalty.

Also in accordance with the ACA, Insurers will no longer be able to exclude those who have pre-existing conditions, or charge sick people more for coverage. By 2019, it is estimated that 32 million Americans who are currently without health insurance will have it.  How will America pay for all this expanded health care coverage? Over the next 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office has surmised that 938 billion dollars will be spent on health care reform.  The money will come from various sources:  savings from health care providers and insurers through Medicare; higher Medicare taxes for those who earn more; new taxes on insurers and businesses; cutting wasteful spending throughout the healthcare industry.

Whether you support reform, would rather keep to the status quo, or fall somewhere in between, one thing is certain – this is the biggest overhaul of our nation’s health care system since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

To view an entertaining short video on this subject, please visit http://healthreform.kff.org/the-animation.aspx  Written and produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation, it is available to watch in English and Spanish.

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