Health Care Bill: What Does It Mean for You?

A breakdown of the health care bill.

ByABC News
March 22, 2010, 12:14 PM

March 22, 2010— -- President Obama Tuesday is expected to sign the sweeping health care overhaul legislation that will have a significant impact on Americans across the board.

Watch live coverage of President Obama signing the health care bill into law at 11:15 a.m. ET on or your local ABC station.

The $938 billion health care bill is to be paid by a combination of tax hikes on the wealthy and cuts in Medicare. The bill will expand coverage to 32 million Americans, but many of the provisions -- with the exception of prescription drug coverage for older Americans and children who have been denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions -- are not expected to go into effect until 2014.

A majority of Americans -- about 60 percent -- get health insurance through their employers. If those Americans make less than $200,000, they are unlikely to see any changes, since the health care bill is designed to maintain the role of employers in providing health insurance benefits and penalizes those that don't. But the bill will affect those in the high income bracket and poor Americans who currently cannot afford health coverage.

Here is a look at what the health care bill entails and when Americans can expect to see those changes go into effect:

Starting this year, insurance companies would be barred from denying coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions. Effective when the bill is signed, they will also be prevented from placing lifetime caps on policies, or from dropping a patient's insurance if he or she gets sick.

In the next three months, "high risk pools" will be established for those who who have pre-existing conditions, to provide safeguards until all the provisions are fully enacted.

Also this year, insurance companies would be required to cover preventive services, which includes such medical procedures as vaccines that are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By 2014, insurance companies will be prohibited from denying coverage to adult patients with pre-existing medical conditions or charging them more because of these conditions.

In a move that has made many college students and young Americans happy, the health care bill allows parents to keep their children on their insurance plan until the age of 26. That provision takes effect this year.

Proponents of the health care bill have been touting how it aims to close the "doughnut hole" in prescription drug coverage. What that means is that older Americans who hit the cap on their Medicare prescription drug benefits will be given a rebate, starting this year. Once they spend $2,830, older Americans will receive a $250 rebate. Starting in 2011, older Americans who go past the allotted amount will be given a 50 percent discount on prescription drugs. The bill aims to close the "doughnut hole" completely by 2020, but older Americans will still have to pay for 25 percent of their drugs.