AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

HOW DOES THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT IMPACT PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS?

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act and set into place an effort that will help ensure that Americans have secure, stable, affordable health insurance and the relief they need from skyrocketing health insurance costs. Historically, people living with HIV and AIDS have had a difficult time obtaining private health insurance and have been particularly vulnerable to insurance industry abuses. People with HIV/AIDS also face barriers to obtaining care from qualified providers. Consistent with the goals of the President’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the Affordable Care Act makes considerable strides in addressing these concerns and advancing equality for people living with HIV and AIDS.

IMPROVING ACCESS TO COVERAGE

Currently, fewer than one in five (17%) people living with HIV has private insurance and nearly 30% do not have any coverage. Medicaid, the Federal-state program that provides health care benefits to low-income people and those living with disabilities, is a major source of coverage for people living with HIV/AIDS, as is Medicare, the Federal program for seniors and people with disabilities. The Ryan White CARE HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 is another key source of funding for health and social services.

The Affordable Care Act began addressing these problems in 2010. As of September 23, 2010, insurers are no longer be able to deny coverage to children living with HIV or AIDS. Insurers also are prohibited from canceling or rescinding coverage to adults or children unless they can show evidence of fraud in an application. And insurers no longer can impose lifetime caps on insurance benefits. These changes will begin to improve access to insurance for people living with HIV/AIDS and other disabling conditions and help people with these conditions retain the coverage they have.

These changes will provide an important bridge to the significant changes in insurance that will be made in 2014 as the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented. Beginning in 2014, insurers will not be allowed to deny coverage to anyone or impose annual limits on coverage. People with low and middle incomes will be eligible for tax subsidies that will help them buy coverage from new state health insurance Exchanges. The Affordable Care Act also broadens Medicaid eligibility to generally include individuals with income below 133% of the Federal poverty line ($14,400 for an individual and $29,300 for a family of 4), including single adults who have not traditionally been eligible for Medicaid benefits before. As a result, a person living with HIV who meets this income threshold no longer has to wait for an AIDS diagnosis in order to become eligible for Medicaid.

 

Reprinted from AIDS.gov