True, a lot of people and lawmakers still want to end, or make changes to, last year's Health Care act, so who knows what will happen to it in the future, but for now parts of it are up, operational, and affecting individuals' lives. It is those operational parts I want to address here. The federal government has created a new website to help people understand and utilize the new act, www.healthcare.gov.
I started writing this blog with the expectation that I would review the enitre site at once, but as you may have guessed from the "Part 1" in my title, I found that impossible. The site covers so much information that I decided this blog would deal with everything but how to find insurance coverage. So, if that's all you are interested in, keep an eye out for Part 2 coming soon. However, I really hope you read on. You will learn about the new law, how it affects you, and you will get good advice about insurance coverage and other health topics.
The home page offers direct access to a plethora of health-related information. Toward the bottom is a video about using the site to find insurance coverage. There are links to the page's social media accounts. The site's blog posts are located in an obvious box just about the video link and they have an RSS feed. And, just to the left of the blogs is a nice "Five Things To Know" set of links. The five colored boxes at the top of the page are the most direct links to the site's deeper information.
We're saving the first box for Part 2. The second box, "Learn About Prevention" includes links to deeper pages as well as links that take the user beyond the healthcare.gov's website. The outside links sends the user to healthfinder.gov, another gateway to tons of information on healthy living, -- that site would have to be a blog all its own -- and the national initiative to solve childhood obesity. The links that lead to deeper into the healthcare.gov's website deal with the preventative services people need depending on their age and sex (notice the information is available in Spanish as well) and what preventative services insurance companies are supposed to cover under the new health care law.
The third box "Compare Care Quality" allows you to compare hospitals, nursing homes, home health care agencies, or dialysis facilities. The page where you choose which subject to search is still on healthcare.gov, but you are sent to medicare.gov for the actual searches (healthcare.gov sensibly chose not to reinvent the wheel). Depending on which subject you're searching you can search by city, state, or zip code, and the nursing home search also allows you to set a miles radius on the search. I used my grandmother's zip code each time, and was impressed with the extensive and detailed results. It was nice to know the nursing home we used when she broke her leg was a five star home. Along with all the good information from the searches, each subject's search page offers additional links to useful information on what to consider and what to ask when choosing care.
The fourth one, "Understand The Law." Strives to help people do just that, understand the new law. The main page offers a brief introductory video. Below the video are links to further information for seniors, special interest groups, and coverage options for those with pre-existing conditions. When you click on one of these links you're taken to a new page with in-depth information and more links to additional information on the topic. As you explore the topics, note that the deeper yellow of the "Understand the Law" tab, extends across the page in a bar. Within that deeper yellow bar are other links, sub-links so to speak. Note that there is always a little carrot sign below the "sub-link" you're currently on, to help orient you to where you are in the broad "Understand the Law" topic. Clear as mud? The "Timeline: What's Changing and When" link is pretty neat. It is a moveable timeline that shows you each change that has already taken place to health care as well as the expected dates of the rest of the changes up to 2015. "About The Law" strives to explain the law, offers the full PDF of the law, or separate links to each section of the law, and a chronological breakdown of the major portions of the law. "Provisions" addresses each major facet of the law, while "In Focus" and "Initiatives" discuss the issues the law is meant to address.
Returning to the different colored boxes, the last one, "Information For You," is helpful when you just want to know how the law affects your individual situation. For example, if you have a family of four, you're not going to be as interested in how the law affects seniors or individuals. When you mouse over the tab, a drop down menu will appear and you'll choose your "subject": individual, family with children, senior, etc. For most of the choices, this brings up the page customized to your interest. For a couple of them you'll have to make additional choices. Several of the pages open with an available video. All of them include an additional list of links on the left, a blue box on the right were you can start immediately researching coverage, and a set of links on the right that essential reword some of the links from the left. Also note that you can change the "situation" you're researching at any time. The "Information For You" tab is set up just like the "Understand The Law" tab. Once you've made your original choice, you can always look just below the tab and see links to the other possible situations. Clicking on any of them will take you to the new page.
Lastly, at the very bottom of the main page are stripped down links: to much of the information covered on the page above, to other sources like www.usa.gov, to information on accessibility for the disabled to the site's information, and to information on the viewers used on the site. Wow, I hope you managed to stay with me through this whole blog! And keep checking back for part, hopefully up within the next week.