ObamaCare is a 2,700-page thicket of legalese around which an extraordinarily polarizing debate over the nature and reach of federal power has swirled. But often lost in the debate are the law's specific benefits — and unbeknownst to many Americans, several of its provisions have been quietly implemented over the past two years. Just this week, an estimated 47 million women across America gained access to eight new medical services at no out-of-pocket cost. Here, five ObamaCare provisions you can already take advantage of:
1. Free preventative care for women
As of Aug. 1, insurance plans are required to cover free annual physicals for women, HIV testing and counseling, HPV DNA testing, screenings for gestational diabetes, screening and counseling for domestic violence, breastfeeding medical support, counseling for sexually transmitted infections, and FDA-approved contraceptive products. That last item has been a source of major controversy, with conservatives claiming that the Obama administration is forcing religious employers to violate their beliefs and cover the costs of birth control. The government has exempted houses of worship from the requirement, and has also extended a one-year reprieve to other religiously associated employers.
2. Insurance company rebates
As of Aug. 1, insurance companies are required to spend at least 80 percent to 85 percent of their customer premiums on direct medical costs. If companies fail to do so, they must send the leftover cash back to customers in the form of a rebate. The average rebate across the nation is expected to be around $150.
3. Free mammograms and colonoscopies
Since September 2010, insurers have been barred from levying out-of-pocket costs on patients receiving mammograms and colonoscopies, two of the most widely used forms of preventative care.
4. Staying on your parents' plan
Since September 2010, children have been allowed to stay on their parents' insurance plans until they turn 26.
5. Get insurance for kids with pre-existing conditions
Since September 2010, insurance companies have been banned from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, which include heart disease, cancer, asthma, and high blood pressure. By 2014, the provision will extend to all Americans with pre-existing conditions. It is also illegal for insurance companies to terminate coverage for any other reason than customer fraud — and insurers are barred from capping the number of benefits a customers can receive in a lifetime.