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One Year Later: Better Benefits, Better Health

March 23, 2011 is the one-year anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act. In just the first year, Americans are seeing scores of new benefits that make their health care more affordable and easier to manage.

Ed. note: This was originally posted on the blog.

A year ago today, President Obama signed the landmark Affordable Care Act into law.  In just one year, the law has already given Americans more freedom and control over their health care choices and insurance companies no longer call all the shots. Now, you and your family may be eligible for important new benefits that will ensure you get the care you need at a more reasonable cost.

Here are some of the benefits you’ll get as a result of the new law:

New Coverage Choices

  • Most young adults can stay on their parent’s family plan until they turn 26.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re married, living with your parents, in school, or financially independent.  For more information on how to stay insured, call the customer service number for your parent’s insurer and explain your situation. Or visit to learn more.
  • Most health plans cannot deny coverage to children under age 19 because of pre-existing conditions like cancer or cerebral palsy.
  • If you have been uninsured because of a pre-existing condition, you may be eligible to join the more than 12,000 Americans insured through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.  To find out about plans available in your State, visit:

New Benefits if You Have Insurance

  • If you are in a new insurance plan, insurance companies cannot charge you a deductible or copays for recommended preventive services, like mammograms, flu shots and other immunizations.  Click here to find a list of preventive services that will be covered without cost-sharing.
  • Insurance companies are prohibited from capping the dollar amount of care you can receive in a lifetime, or cancelling your coverage due to a mistake on your application when you get sick.

New Benefits for People with Medicare

  • Seniors and other people with Medicare can get many preventive services and an annual wellness visit with no deductible, coinsurance, or co-payment. More than 150,000 seniors and individuals with disabilities with Medicare have received an annual wellness visit in the first two months of the year.
  • Seniors and others who are in the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the donut hole now receive a 50% discount on covered brand name prescription drugs and 7 percent off prices for generic drugs. In 2010, nearly 4 million seniors and individuals with disabilities with Medicare received a one-time $250 rebate check to help with high prescription drugs costs.

This is only the beginning of a transformation of our health care system that puts you in the driver's seat. For more information on how you can get these benefits, visit our Better Benefits, Better Health Initiative.

Richard Sorian is Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.