The package of changes would provide coverage to 32 million people through Medicaid, subsidies to families and tax credits to small businesses that can't afford to cover their workers. It would pay for the expansion with the Medicare cuts, new taxes on upper-income workers and expensive insurance plans, and fees on the manufacturers of prescription drugs and medical devices.
It also would prohibit insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, dropping people when they get sick and limiting lifetime benefits. Children could be covered on their parents' policies up to age 26, and seniors would receive improved coverage for Medicare prescription drugs. Most individuals would be required to have insurance, and businesses with 50 or more employees would have to provide it or pay a fee.
Sounds pretty good to me, particularly the part where insurers can't deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. There seem to be a lot of people who don't support the bill, though. Just today I was told that the law already protected me from being denied coverage for a pre-existing condition. Um... no. It didn't. Trust me, I know — I've been turned down by the health insurance companies before.
The bill also prevents the health insurance companies from dropping you once you get sick, which is a huge deal. Kids will be able to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26, too, which is important considering how few kids get settled in life by age 19. And — very importantly — the bill puts a limit on how much insurance companies can charge you in premiums for an individual (non-group) plan if you have a pre-existing condition.
Here is a good explanation of all of the benefits of the health care bill. And another article, in which the NYT answers readers' questions about the health care bill. And finally, a side-by-side comparison of the health care bill that passed with the original House and Senate bills.
I really think that if people would stop freaking out about the cost (which really isn't that bad, since they are cutting unnecessary spending on Medicare and increasing taxes on the wealthy to pay for it), they would find that this benefits them far more than it hurts anyone.