Six Ways the Affordable Care Act is Helping Cancer patients

American Cancer Society celebrates six-month anniversary of law; offers free answers and support for people with questions

It's been six months since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law and the measure will meaningfully improve the health care system for people touched by cancer. To mark the six-month anniversary, the American Cancer Society has prepared a list of the top six cancer-fighting provisions in this law.

1) More cancer survivors can now get care - High-risk pools have been established in every state to provide coverage for the uninsured.  The program launched on July 1st and is providing immediate access to coverage for people in every state who have been uninsured for six months or more and have cancer or another pre-existing condition.

2) No more “doughnut holes” - The Affordable Care Act is finally closing the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole”.  Immediately after enactment, the law provided a $250 rebate to seniors who hit the coverage gap in Medicare’s prescription drug program.  In addition, Medicare beneficiaries will receive discounts on brand-name drugs next year, and the coverage gap will be closed completely by 2020.

3) “The kids are all right” – Mantra from the old song by The Who can be applied here.  Health plans will be prohibited from denying coverage to children up to age 19 with pre-existing conditions such as cancer.  So if you have a child who is a survivor you will no long have to worry about their insurance if you change jobs.  

4) The well won't run dry - Health plans will be banned from setting lifetime dollar limits on coverage, ensuring that people with cancer have access to needed care throughout their lifetimes. Annual dollar limits on coverage will be tightly restricted for most plans and will be eliminated altogether in 2014. Patients will no longer have to put off treatments waiting for the new plan year to start.

5) In sickness and in health – Just like marriage, your health plan now takes a vow to you when they take your business.  As of this week, health insurers will be barred from dropping people from coverage when they get sick.  In other words, you can’t lose your insurance for developing cancer.

6) Prevention, prevention prevention – Also new this week, coverage will be guaranteed and out-of-pocket costs will be eliminated in new insurance plans for proven preventive services, giving people access to lifesaving screenings for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer.

While major reforms to health care can seem confusing and even overwhelming, you’re not alone.  Your American Cancer Society, the official sponsor of more birthdays, is here to help.  The Society has a staff of trained experts available to answer questions, free of charge.  Our toll-free, cancer information hotline is available 24 hours a day at 800.227.2345.  We’ve taken the politics out of the debate and boiled down the facts cancer patients need to know.  

The debate on reforming health care is far from over, but these six real-world benefits alone will have a positive impact on the lives of people battling cancer, bringing us all one big step closer to guaranteeing access to affordable, adequate health care for all Americans.

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About the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing about $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.