The new health care law was devised in Washington, but it's in the states where everyone will find out if it works. A thumbnail glance at how it's designed:
—The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the biggest safety-net legislation since Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.
—At a cost of $1.7 trillion over the next decade, it's meant to move the U.S. closer to other industrialized nations providing health care for all.
—Coverage takes effect Jan. 1, 2014. It's expected to help about 30 million Americans who now lack health insurance. Insurers won't be able to turn away people with health problems.
—The law mandates that individuals have coverage, provides subsidies to help pay premiums and penalizes those who don't get the insurance. It imposes penalties on businesses with 50 or more full-time workers that don't offer coverage.
—Health insurance exchanges set up in each state will offer subsidized private coverage to middle-class households. And Medicaid, the government's health insurance for the poor, will be expanded to cover low-income people making up to about $15,400 for an individual. States can opt out of the Medicaid expansion.
—Enrollment in the system opens Oct. 1, 2013.
- Health Care Policy
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