But it’s also important to know how to use it. This means knowing what benefits your plan covers, what services are free, and how much you have to pay for others.

Insurance plans must explain what services are covered in a summary of benefits and coverage, which often looks like this. If you have questions after reading the summary, call your insurance company. Here’s their number.  

Topics to watch: Keeping CoverageConsumer InfoMedicaid

Place Matters

Where you are born and grow up impacts your health. Some Chicago neighborhoods have grocery stores, sidewalks and reliable transportation. Others do not—and this all influences a person’s well-being and life expectancy. This map from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center on Society and Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows how city residents separated by just seven “L” stops can experience a 16-year difference in life expectancy.

This map is the result of research on neighborhood conditions and health in U.S. cities by the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center on Society and Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Read the study.

Myths & Facts

MYTH: “ACA plans are not affordable”

FACT: The ACA makes health insurance more affordable by providing financial assistance based on income. Four out of five people who bought a plan on the marketplace received financial assistance, in the form of tax credits and cost sharing subsidies. The law also protects consumers from high costs by placing caps on consumer out-of-pocket spending. (more…)

MYTH: “Because of the ACA I’m going to lose Medicare benefits”

FACT: Medicare benefits will not be altered or cut due to the ACA. No Medicare money is being transferred to the ACA. The projections of reduced Medicare spending are based on cost-saving reforms in Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals. No cuts are being made to benefits. In fact, the ACA adds new benefits for seniors, including an annual wellness visit; and it will gradually eliminate the gap in coverage for prescription drugs. (more…)

MYTH: “People are losing good insurance plans because of the ACA”

FACT: The Affordable Care Act outlawed plans that did not provide a minimum level of coverage. Such plans seemed like a bargain because of the low monthly premiums, but if the patient had a serious illness or injury, the plan would only pay a tiny fraction of the cost, leaving them at risk for bankruptcy. Medical bills account for more than half of all U.S. bankruptcies. (more…)

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