(Flickr: Adrian Clark)
(Flickr: Adrian Clark)

Health Care Reform won’t be fully implemented for another two years, but the key here is “fully.” Some changes are already in effect.

The problem, as a recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation highlighted, is a lot of Americans are confused about some of the most basic elements of the plan, even those things that are already in effect.

Health policy consultant Linda Bergthold set out to inform people under the amusing headline “Holiday Gifts from Health Reform” in the Huffington Post last week. There’s something for the old, the young, some of the uninsured and even small business owners.

1. If you are 65 or older — (and eligible for Medicare) — seniors who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans (that’s Part C or the managed care part of Medicare) may have seen their premiums reduced this year. Some may even have access to ZERO premium health plans. Seniors also now receive free preventive treatments and a rebate of $500 if their drug coverage hits the “donut hole” in 2011.

2. If you are 26 or younger — you may have been able to stay on your parents’ health plan this year, even if you are working or don’t live at home. 1.8 million young people had access to this benefit. And 90,000 children under the age of 19 could not be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition due to a change that was implemented in 2011.

3. If you needed preventive care (or had the good sense to get it) — you had access to it this year without a co-payment or deductibles.

4. If you were a small business owner — with fewer than 25 employees and average wages of $50,000 a year, you were eligible for a substantial tax credit if you offered health insurance coverage to your workers.

You can click here to read items 5, 6 and 7.

Author

Lisa Aliferis

Lisa Aliferis is the founding editor of KQED's State of Health blog. Since 2011, she's been writing stories and editing them for the site. Before taking up blogging, she toiled for many years producing health stories for television, including Dateline NBC and San Francisco's CBS affiliate, KPIX-TV. She also wrote up a handy guide to the Affordable Care Act, especially for Californians. You can follow her on Twitter: @laliferis

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