The new health care law was devised in Washington, but it’s in the states where everyone will find out if it works. A thumbnail glance:
—The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the biggest safety-net legislation since Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.
— Enrollment starts Oct. 1, 2013; coverage takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.
— It will move the U.S. closer to other industrialized nations that provide health care for all. About 30 million uninsured Americans are eventually to gain coverage, at an estimated cost of $1.3 trillion from 2013-2023. Insurers won’t be able to turn away people with health problems.
—The law mandates that most individuals have health insurance, provides subsidies to help pay premiums and penalizes people who can afford coverage but don’t get it. It imposes penalties on businesses with 50 or more fulltime workers that don’t offer coverage.
—Health insurance exchanges set up in each state will offer subsidized private health plans to middle-class households. Medicaid, the government’s health insurance for the poor, will be expanded to cover low-income people making up to about $15,400 for an individual. States can opt out of the Medicaid expansion.