People have developed very strong opinions about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may affect businesses or families living below the poverty line. However, if you’re a parent, you’re probably more concerned about how the changing environment of American healthcare will affect your children. And the answers to your questions may be better than you expected!

By January 1, 2014, everyone, young and old alike (that is not currently enrolled in employer-subsidized health insurance), must purchase a healthcare plan or pay a penalty that increases over the years. This new law will work toward reducing the number of uninsured children, which is still at a record high of one in 10 (or 7.6 million) children.

The ACA includes provisions designed to provide comprehensive coverage for children. This beneficial coverage can no longer be denied or dropped due to preexisting conditions or illness. This means this if children currently have or later develop chronic health issues, such as asthma, scoliosis or cancer, their insurance will remain intact to offer the coverage these kids need to receive vital medical care.

These new health insurance policies now offer many of the same services as Medicaid and CHIP, providing preventive care at absolutely no cost to encourage routine checkups and better overall health. These services include, but are not limited to:
• Various immunizations
• Vision screenings
• Blood pressure screenings
• Developmental screenings and behavioral assessments
• Sickle cell screenings
• Autism screenings
• Iron supplements

Insurance carriers must also cover (not necessarily for free) specified services for all children under 19, including emergency services, pediatric dental and vision care, maternity and newborn care and mental health services.

Under the ACA, young adults can now choose to remain a dependent on their parents’ health insurance plan through age 26. This opens up three options to young adults when deciding on healthcare; they can stay on their parents’ plan, enroll in an employer-subsidized plan or shop the Health Insurance Marketplace. Each option should be explored to determine the differences in price and coverage.

Young adults must take into consideration that, in this poor economy and job market, young adults may have trouble finding full-time work with a company large enough to offer healthcare benefits. Because of this, the opportunity to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26 offers young adults a chance that they weren’t previously guaranteed.

If your ideas for obtaining family healthcare include the marketplace, it would be wise to contact the insurance carriers you’re interested in to inquire about plans that include your current pediatricians and doctors in their network, access to pediatric specialists and surgeons, vision and dental care and rehabilitative services such as physical therapy. This will help ensure you get the coverage you desire from the doctors you already trust.

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