Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – Questions About Health Care

What can we expect with the Affordable Care Act?

It’s a question on a lot of people’s minds, and I’ve been searching for a clear and user friendly explanation of it for months now–and I must say I am very disappointed. I’ve found plenty of jargon-rich interpretations suited more for the insurance providers and hardly any clear and easily understood reading for the regular folks like you and me. I’ve read tons of pages on government websites and am still scratching my noodle. All I can do for you all is present the links to some of these websites and say that if you are curious, have time to listen, and want to hunt for answers, I wish you luck in your endeavor.

I began this quest because on January 16th, 2013 my father died. He was 80 and suffered with two major illnesses–Alzheimer’s disease and Emphysema. He went gently, being cared for by in-home hospice nursing care and his wife and family. It was important to protect him so he could retain his dignity, and because hospice was available, Dad was kept safe and comfortable.

After witnessing the positive aspects of in-home hospice and listening to the recent skepticism voiced by many over the Affordable Care Act, it has triggered a need to know more. I think that a major change from what the U.S. is accustomed and what we are expected to accept about the national health care policies taking place will polarize us and possibly cause more harm than good.

What I mean is, I’m concerned that the option for individuals like my Dad to receive in-home care for geriatric and chronic, end-of-life illnesses like Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other diseases is still very unclear. Will my husband or I be denied this option in the future when we are faced with a health care decision like that, or will we be forced into a nursing home? I feel that we need to educate ourselves on what’s in that overstuffed tomb of health care reforms. Our system isn’t the best or the worst, but it’s what we have to work with and we should know a little more about it.

Some questions that have been going through my mind are: What can I expect, say, in two years, if taking care of an aging parent with a life-ending chronic illness? Will I be forced to relegate them to a nursing facility and not be given the choice to provide them in-home hospice care?

The Supreme Court has ruled President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act constitutional and major provisions of the Act are set to start shortly.

After going to the Department of Labor’s FAQ site, I read this paragraph:

“The Departments are working together with employers, issuers, States, providers and other stakeholders to help them come into compliance with the new law and are working with families and individuals to help them understand the new law and benefit from it, as intended. Compliance assistance is a high priority for the Departments. Our approach to implementation is and will continue to be marked by an emphasis on assisting (rather than imposing penalties on) plans, issuers and others that are working diligently and in good faith to understand and come into compliance with the new law. This approach includes, where appropriate, transition provisions, grace periods, safe harbors, and other policies to ensure that the new provisions take effect smoothly, minimizing any disruption to existing plans and practices.”

I have to admit, I fear the worst because I had to read and re-read the text that followed that statement many times over.

Below is the link to the DOL site so you can hopefully follow the FAQs that, in my opinion, just make it harder to understand the new provisions. I still can’t find the answer to in-home hospice care, but will continue hunting for it and report to my findings in another article. I’m sure that in my continued quest for answers, I will come up with answers to other questions as well, and will hopefully start to build my own guide which I will share with all of you.

The Department of Labor FAQs site for the Affordable Care Act implementation can be found here:
http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq-aca.html

If anyone has a more user-friendly explanation of the Affordable Care Act and its provisions, definitions, etc., please let us know, as we all need to find out more about it.


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