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Health Reform Explained Video: "Health Reform Hits Main Street"

[music] Let's face it folks, the new health care reformlaw is com-plex.

It runs about a 1, 000 pages even in tiny print.

So it's no surprise that very few Americanshave actually read it.

But it's about to affect all of us, and manyhave been wondering what it will mean for our health, our wallets and our country.

Let's say we take all 310 million Americansand squish us down to just 25 people.

Yep, each of these folks would represent about12 million of us.

And this is pretty much what we'd look like.

Polls show about three out of ten of us sayhealth care reform will make us better off, a similar number say worse off, and a similarnumber again say it won't make much difference at all.

Some of us don't know what to think.

I guessyou could say we're kinda split on this one.

But no matter where you stand on the issue, it's likely you're thinking, “Hello? I got some basic questions still unanswered here.

” And you deserve real answers, not the partisanrhetoric and spin we've been flooded with.

So let's break down what the reform law doesand doesn't do and what it will cost.

If you want to read the whole law, go ahead.

Butwatching this video is the next best thing.

Ready to jump in? Let's begin with the problems in our currenthealth care system.

Problem number one is, what problem number one usually is, money.

Most people agree that health insurance policiesare too expensive.

For a family, the average premium is almost$14, 000 dollars a year…and growing.

Premiums have doubled over the last nine years, ballooningway faster than inflation! Plus, our population is aging, meaning morepeople with more health problems.

So, health care costs are the fastest growing part ofthe federal budget.

The second problem is that the system is fullof holes.

Like the fact that people buying insurance on their own can be turned downfor having a pre-existing health condition.

Small businesses may be charged extra if someof the workers are sick, making insurance unaffordable.

And some insurance policieshave a lifetime limit on benefits.

After that, you're out of luck.

That means some of the people least likelyto have coverage are the ones who need it most.

Nice, huh? High costs and holes in the system mean morethan one in seven of us have no health insurance to protect us at all.

Many more struggle to pay their bills andcan only afford bare minimum policies that may not cover much.

High costs to households, strain on the federalbudget and people with no protection.

It's easy to see why many people were lookingfor something different.

So here's what the health reform law plansto do in its first phase, between now and 2014.

[music] To start dealing with costs, insurers willbe limited in how they spend our premium dollars.

If they use too much for administrative costsor profits, they'll be forced to give some of it back through rebates.

This won't stoppremium increases, but it may help some.

Some services will become free in all newprivate insurance policies, and in Medicare — preventive care like screenings and vaccinations.

[baby crying] People on Medicare, because they're over 65or disabled, will get more help with their drug costs.

Young people can save money and stay insuredby remaining on their parents' policies up to age 26.

And some small businesses will get tax breaksto help them pay for health insurance for their workers.

And the holes? Well, some will be closed startingnow too.

Lifetime limits on health coverage will be gone, whether you buy insurance onyour own or get it from your employer.

And it will be illegal to turn kids down forhaving a pre-existing health condition, like asthma or diabetes.

Of course, some adults who buy insurance ontheir own will still be getting rejected between now and 2014.

But those who do can enter somethingcalled a high-risk pool, run by the government.

No, it's more like a policy that covers thesickest uninsured people, meaning it's riskier for insurance companies.

That's why the governmentwill chip in some money to bring down the cost.

Some say these high-risk pools will help alot of people.

Others say these pools will still be too expensive, and may not have enoughgovernment money to stay in business until they're replaced by something better, in PhaseII.

On New Year's Day 2014, some big changes kickin.

[cheers] First, let's look at how the law makes healthcare more affordable.

Medicaid will be expanded to cover all low-incomeindividuals and families in every state.

And depending on what you make, if you loseyour job or your employer doesn't provide decent coverage, you may get a health insurancetax credit.

And while most of us will continue to gethealth insurance at work just like now, if you don't have that option, you'll be ableto buy coverage in what's called an “Exchange.

” You'll be hearing a lot about them, so let'sstop and look at how they work.

An exchange is like a virtual insurance mega-mall.

Based on where you live, you'll get an easy-to-understand menu of options to compare plans in plainEnglish.

And the exchange makes sure insurance companies compete fairly under strict rules.

The idea is that by giving consumers goodinformation, a fair playing field and access to lots of choices, competition among insurerswill keep rates competitive.

Now, onto plugging the holes.

In 2014 insurerswill no longer be able to turn people down or charge them more if they're sick.

You might say, hold on a minute, if I can'tbe turned down or charged more, why not just wait until I get sick or injured to buy insuranceat all? Not so fast buddy.

See, with few exceptions, people will be required to have insurance or pay a special tax.

Same with larger businesses, who will pay fines if they don't insure their workers.

Of course, nobody likes being told they haveto buy anything.

But without this rule, experts say you can't require that everyone be eligiblefor coverage.

Imagine telling home insurers they have to cover people whose houses arealready on fire! So the government will provide credits, expandedprograms and new rules.

They say that by 2019, 32 million of us who don't have health insurancewill have it.

Some of those who will still be uninsured: undocumented immigrants, whoaren't eligible for coverage under the law.

No surprise, all this is going to cost money.

938 billion dollars over the next ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the impartial referee when Congress debates these kinds of things.

It's a lot of money, sure, but if you lookat it another way, it's 2% of our federal budget, and 3% of what we'll be spending onhealth care overall.

Now, the President and Congress insisted thesenew costs will be paid for so they don't push the budget deficit up any further.

That meansmoney will come out of someone's pocket.

That's where the tough politics come in.

A lot of the savings will come from healthcare providers and insurers in the Medicare program.

The fees the government pays to hospitalsunder Medicare won't be allowed to rise as fast as they have been.

And, insurance companies that provide servicesto people on Medicare will be paid less.

Medicare will also create a bunch of experimentsaround the country to test different ways of paying doctors, hospitals and other providersto make the health care system more efficient, and improve the quality of care.

With luck some of these experiments will work, and then be adopted by the private sector and help lower costs for employers and familiestoo.

Plus, a new federal advisory board will makerecommendations about other ways to deal with increases in health care costs.

Some taxes will go up too.

People with highearnings will pay higher Medicare taxes.

There will be new taxes on insurers and businesseswho offer high-end benefit plans, and on companies that make medical devices and drugs.

And oh, anyone who visits a tanning salon now has to pay a new tax too.

With these new cost-cutting measures and newtaxes, the Congressional Budget Office says the whole package will actually reduce thefederal deficit over the next ten years.

Of course, the total federal deficit is expectedto run into the trillions, so the health reform law isn't going to solve that problem.

Well, that's the reform law.

Do you love it, hate it, still don't know? Either way, there's still a lot of work ahead.

You'll be hearing lots of different things about this law.

Some people support reform, and if anything want to expand it and increase government oversight of insurers and the healthcare industry.

Others oppose it, and think it creates toobig a role for the government.

Some states have even gone to court claimingthe requirement that everyone buy insurance is unconstitutional.

Politicians and pundits will be talking toyou as if you've got no idea what's in that thousand-page law.

But by watching this, you're on your way togetting informed.

And you can make sure your friends and familyare too, just by passing this little video around.

[music].

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