Now Available - The Affordable Care Act Playbook

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today issued a series of rules and regulations explaining key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare. As the Huffington Post noted, these rules have been eagerly awaited since early 2010 when President Obama put his health care overhaul into effect.

Per HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: no more discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.

More from the agency's press release:

  • A proposed rule that, beginning in 2014, prohibits health insurance companies from discriminating against individuals because of a pre-existing or chronic condition.  Under the rule, insurance companies would be allowed to vary premiums within limits, only based on age, tobacco use, family size, and geography.  Health insurance companies would be prohibited from denying coverage to any American because of a pre-existing condition or from charging higher premiums to certain enrollees because of their current or past health problems, gender, occupation, and small employer size or industry. The rule would ensure that people for whom coverage would otherwise be unaffordable, and young adults, have access to a catastrophic coverage plan in the individual market.  For more information regarding this rule, visit: http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2012/11/market-reforms11202012a.html.
  • A proposed rule outlining policies and standards for coverage of essential health benefits, while giving states more flexibility to implement the Affordable Care Act. Essential health benefits are a core set of benefits that would give consumers a consistent way to compare health plans in the individual and small group markets. A companion letter on the flexibility in implementing the essential health benefits in Medicaid was also sent to states.  For more information regarding this rule, visit http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2012/11/ehb11202012a.html.
  • A proposed rule implementing and expanding employment-based wellness programs to promote health and help control health care spending, while ensuring that individuals are protected from unfair underwriting practices that could otherwise reduce benefits based on health status.  For more information regarding this rule, visit: http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2012/11/wellness11202012a.html

Healthcare.gov has tons of resources. Bottom line: read those fact sheets and see how they apply to your situation.

This is a brave new world.