What you need to know about health care reform

Clinic Sofia in Maple Grove has been so busy in the first year of business that it's looking to recruit another doctor.

"Today the clinic has been really busy," said Dr. Sujatha Roberts. "The community has been very accepting and welcomed us with open arms."

The clinic has also seen big changes on the business side of women's health care. 

"For the most part, we've had questions patients asking is it fully covered and for the most part, it is," said Katie Sexe, who works in the business office of the clinic.

The health care reform law focuses on two areas: benefits and coverage. The law particularly focuses on increasing coverage for prevention and primary care, as many screenings, wellness visits and services are now covered.

"Most people say this is a time which had to come. We need to play a role in staying healthy," said former Senator Dave Durenberger, now a health policy expert at the University of St. Thomas' National Institute of Health Policy. "There has to be a better way than something that says "this is not a bill" to make sure people are involved in their own health care."

Coverage has also expanded. Children can stay on their parents' insurance plans longer and insurers cannot deny coverage for adutls with pre-exisiting conditions.

More changes are coming in 2014. Among them, Americans will be required to have some type of coverage or face a tax penalty. Americans will also have the option of shopping for health insurance through an online marketplace.

"The eventual idea is everyone should find a market where every year they can make choices," said Durenberger.

There are still many unknowns, including how much online plans will cost or if the system will level the playing field and lower insurance prices. Sen. Durenberger recommends talking with a health care professional whom you trust to keep up with the current changes and then to see how the changes factor in to your own health plan.

For more information on health care reform, check out this update and free guide from Consumer Reports.

Shannon Slatton, reporting

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


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