Key Provisions That Take Effect Immediately

Immediate Provisions
  1. Small Business Tax Credits
    Offers tax credits to small businesses to make employee coverage more affordable. Tax credits of up to 35% of premiums will be available to firms that choose to offer coverage. Effective beginning calendar year 2010. (Beginning in 2014, the small business tax credits will cover 50% of premiums.)
  2. Discrimination Against Children With Pre-existing Conditions
    Prohibits new health plans in all markets plus grandfathered group health plans from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Effective six months after enactment. (Beginning in 2014, this prohibition would apply to all persons.)
  3. Help For Uninsured Americans With Pre-existing Conditions Until Exchange Is Available (interim High-risk Pool)
    Provides access to affordable insurance for Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary subsidized high-risk pool. Effective in 2010.
  4. Ends Rescissions
    Bans insurance companies from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Effective six months after enactment.
  5. Begins To Close The Medicare Part D Donut Hole
    Provides a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole in 2010. Effective for calendar year 2010. (Beginning in 2011, institutes a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the donut hole; also completely closes the donut hole by 2020.)
  6. Free Preventive Care Under Medicare
    Eliminates co-payments for preventive services and exempts preventive services from deductibles under the Medicare program. Effective beginning January 1, 2011.
  7. Extends Coverage For Young People Up To 26th Birthday Through Parents' Insurance
    Requires new health plans and certain grandfathered plans to allow young people up to their 26th birthday to remain on their parents' insurance policy, at the parents' choice. Effective six months after enactment.
  8. Help For Early Retirees
    Creates a temporary re-insurance program (until the Exchanges are available) to help offset the costs of expensive premiums for employers and retirees for health benefits for retirees age 55-64. Effective in 2010.
  9. Bans Lifetime Limits On Coverage
    Prohibits health insurance companies from placing lifetime caps on coverage. Effective six months after enactment.
  10. Bans Restrictive Annual Limits On Coverage
    Tightly restricts the use of annual limits to ensure access to needed care in all new plans and grandfathered group health plans. These tight restrictions will be defined by Health and Human Services. Effective six months after enactment. (Beginning in 2014, the use of any annual limits would be prohibited for all new plans and grandfathered group health plans.)
  11. Free Preventive Care Under New Private Plans
    Requires new private plans to cover preventive services with no co-payments and with preventive services being exempt from deductibles. Effective six months after enactment.
  12. New, Independent Appeals Process
    Ensures consumers in new plans have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal decisions by their health insurance plan. Effective six months after enactment.
  13. Ensures Value For Premium Payments
    Requires plans in the individual and small group market to spend 80% of premium dollars on medical services, and plans in the large group market to spend 85% . Insurers that do not meet these thresholds must provide rebates to policyholders. Effective on January 1, 2011.
  14. Community Health Centers
    Increases funding for Community Health Centers to allow for nearly a doubling of the number of patients seen by the centers over the next five years. Effective beginning in fiscal year 2011.
  15. Increases The Number Of Primary Care Practitioners
    Provides new investments to increase the number of primary care practitioners, including doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. Effective beginning in fiscal year 2011.
  16. Prohibits Discrimination Based On Salary
    Prohibits new group health plans from establishing any eligibility rules for health care coverage that have the effect of discriminating in favor of higher wage employees. Effective six months after enactment.
  17. Health Insurance Consumer Information
    Provides aid to states in establishing offices of health insurance consumer assistance in order to help individuals with the filing of complaints and appeals. Effective beginning in fiscal year 2010.
  18. Holds Insurance Companies Accountable For Unreasonable Rate Hikes
    Creates a grant program to support States in requiring health insurance companies to submit justification for all requested premium increases, and insurance companies with excessive or unjustified premium exchanges may not be able to participate in the new Health Insurance Exchanges. Starting in plan year 2011.