By CARLI M. SMITH

PHOTO: iStock
The new healthcare reform law may bring the number of uninsured Americans down to 14 million.

In March, 2010, the Healthcare Reform Bill was signed into law. But, the law that passed is different from the President’s original proposal.

Congress changed President Obama’s original healthcare reform bill before passing it. The greatest difference is that the final bill does not include a public healthcare option, which would have been managed by the government. With a public option, the government would not profit off of people like health insurance companies do. Now, health insurance companies will not have to worry about competing with the low cost of the public option in order to attract customers. As a result, they will be able to charge more and people will have no choice but to buy insurance from them.

Here are some key elements in the law:

Who Will Be Covered?

People who don’t have insurance through their jobs will be required to buy health insurance or pay a fine. This could bring the number of uninsured from 46 million people down to 14 million. Although the public option was dropped from the final bill, the government will regulate how health insurance companies can operate.

Can Insurance Companies Turn You Down?

Before the reform, health insurance companies could refuse to allow someone to buy insurance from them if that person already had a medical problem. Beginning in 2014, insurance companies cannot refuse to cover people because of pre-existing illnesses.

How Will People Afford Healthcare?

Subsidies (financial aid) will be available to people who cannot afford to purchase their own healthcare plan. But, they will need to meet requirements to make sure that they truly cannot afford it.

Health Insurance: A system where people pay a set fee to a health insurance company. The company is supposed to pay the doctor or hospital for a person’s medical bills.