Wednesday, Apr. 21, 2010

Sudden Impact

Add confusion to the list of emotions Americans are feeling about the new health-reform law. Congressional help lines have been besieged and doctors report being inundated with questions from patients concerned about how the new law will affect their medical care. Rumors are swirling that free government health care is now available and even that doctors now need government approval to provide treatment. (Neither of these is true.)

Many of the significant changes on the way — like subsidies to help people buy coverage and a requirement that everyone obtain insurance — won't happen until 2014. But some key provisions will go into effect this fall or at the beginning of 2011. By then, the Department of Health and Human Services will have written some of the actual regulations designed to put the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into action. Until then, however, some important details will remain up in the air. Here are five of the most vital immediate benefits of the reform law and what details are still unknown about them.