The Affordable Care Act: Key Provisions for People With Arthritis

Understand how the law affects your insurance coverage and costs.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law in March 2010. This law opens offers certain protections to help ensure coverage and access to health insurance for people living with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other types of arthritis. Here is an overview of some of those protections.
You can’t be denied  or dropped –because of arthritis: Under the ACA, you can’t be refused insurance coverage, be charged higher premiums or get dropped from coverage because of your arthritis.

You can comparison shop for insurance: If you are uninsured or under-insured, you can shop around on the Health Insurance marketplace at The plans are broken into four categories:

  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Platinum

Gold and platinum plans have higher monthly premiums, but you’ll pay lower out-of-pocket costs. That could save you money if you’re paying for several arthritis medicines and rheumatologist visits. You can search and compare details on monthly premiums, annual deductibles and types of services covered. Open enrollment dates can be found on the website.

You’ll have access to essential health benefits. 

Both employer-sponsored health insurance plans and plans offered in the marketplace must cover a list of essential health benefits. These include hospitalization for surgery, prescription drugs, and the management of chronic diseases like arthritis. Co-payments and deductibles for preventive care have been eliminated. To get a full list of the preventive services covered, visit the website.

You can’t max out your health coverage. 

In the past, some insurance companies limited how much they would pay for coverage over a person’s lifetime. That amount could be up to a $1 million or higher. A million dollars might seem like a lot of money, until you consider that a single hip replacement surgery can cost $100,000 and biologic drugs can exceed $2,500 per month. Currently, insurance companies can’t impose lifetime limits on services that are deemed essential health benefits

You’ll pay lower out-of-pocket costs.

Annual out-of-pocket costs for your medical visits and prescription drugs will be limited, as long as those costs are deemed to be related to essential health benefits. The IRS sets these limits each year. In 2019, the max for an individual is $7,900 and the maximum cost for a family is $15,800.

Your premium payments must largely go to your care.

The government requires insurers spend at least 80% of premium payments on medical care. If they don’t hit 80%, you get a rebate or a reduction in future premium payments.

If you’re on Medicare, your drug costs will be contained. 

Medicare Part D drug coverage includes a “donut hole” that kicks in once your drug costs reach a certain amount. Then you pay the difference until you hit the “catastrophic” phase. If you’re on biologic drugs, which can cost upwards of $30,000 a year, you’ll get to that donut hole pretty quickly. Beginning in 2019, Part D enrollees will pay 25 percent of the cost of all their prescription drugs from the time they enter the gap until they reach the catastrophic phase. Learn more about the Medicare coverage gap at the Medicare website.

You’ll get access to cheaper biologic drugs. 

The ACA has paved the way for biosimilar versions of biologics to reach the market more quickly. Biosimilars slow the progression of joint damage similar to biologics, but they’re cheaper. Medicare will reimburse for biological and biosimilars in the same way.

You can appeal rejected claims. 

When your health insurer refuses to pay a claim, now you can appeal the decision. If your insurer still says “no,” you can have the decision reviewed by an independent organization. Learn more about appealing claims.

Your child can stay on your plan until age 26.

That’s good news for parents of the nearly 300,000 kids with juvenile arthritis. And even when your young adult needs to find insurance coverage, he or she can’t be denied or discriminated against because of JA.
For more on the ACA visit’s quick guide.
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By taking part in the Live Yes! INSIGHTS assessment, you’ll be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis, for yourself and for 54 million others. And all it takes is just 10 minutes.

Your shared experiences will help:

- Lead to more effective treatments and outcomes
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- Shape a powerful agenda that fights for you

Now is the time to make your voice count, for yourself and the entire arthritis community. 

Currently this program is for the adult arthritis community.  Since the needs of the juvenile arthritis (JA) community are unique, we are currently working with experts to develop a customized experience for JA families. 

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As a partner, you will help the Arthritis Foundation provide life-changing resources, science, advocacy and community connections for people with arthritis, the nations leading cause of disability. Join us today and help lead the way as a Champion of Yes.


Our Trailblazers are committed partners ready to lead the way, take action and fight for everyday victories. They contribute $2,000,000 to $2,749,000


Our Visionary partners help us plan for a future that includes a cure for arthritis. These inspired and inventive champions have contributed $1,500,00 to $1,999,999.


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