On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Health Care Act (dubbed Obamacare by some), putting in place comprehensive health care reforms. And in June of this year, the Supreme Court ruled that this act is constitutional — meaning that you can expect more changes in the coming years.

Health care reform might impact more than just our health insurance though. Believe it or not, it could also sway how we buy car insurance.

Really? Really.

See, car insurance — specifically medical payments coverage — has long been an important addition to many people’s health insurance. For those who don’t have adequate coverage, medical payments can help with everything from the hospital bill to extended nursing services if a car accident occurs. (Of course, since med pay is a type of car insurance coverage and not actual health insurance, it’ll only kick in if you or your passengers suffer an injury in a traffic accident.)

But is medical payments coverage still useful in this shifting health care landscape? Let’s lay out some of the major highlights (past and future) of the Affordable Health Care Act and find out.

Health care changes that have already occurred

Young adults can stay on their parents’ plan
College grads and young adults have a little less pressure to land a job that offers health insurance. With Obamacare in effect, children could stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26 — even if they’re in school, married, or not living at home.

No lifetime limits on most benefits
The Affordable Health Care Act has eliminated lifetime limits, or the dollar limit your insurer will pay during the entire time you’re enrolled in that plan. So if you, say, need to stay in a hospital, you won’t be turned away no matter how much your health insurer has spent on you in the past. (Nice, right?)

Free preventive services
Under the new law, you and your family could receive recommended preventive health services (like screenings, vaccinations, counseling) without having to pay a co-pay or deductible.

Health care changes to come

New health insurance marketplace
Beginning in 2014, there will be a new (and easier) way to shop for medical coverage. If you don’t have a health plan through work, you can simply head to the Affordable Insurance Exchange.

The Exchange (as those in the know like to call it) will offer the option to compare plans, get answers to health insurance questions, and enroll in private or public health coverage. In case you’re still skeptical, even Congress members will be using it for their own health care needs.

Individual responsibility
In 2014, if you can afford health insurance but don’t buy it, you could be asked to pay a fee to help offset the cost of covering uninsured citizens. This won’t apply, however, if affordable coverage isn’t available to you.

Guaranteed coverage even with a preexisting condition
This is a biggie. In 2014, health insurers won’t be able to deny you coverage or cancel your policy because you have a longstanding issue (like heart disease or asthma).

Does medical payments coverage still make sense?

With health care reform slated to bring coverage to as many people as possible while potentially increasing the quality of protection, should you still consider adding medical payments coverage to your car insurance policy? The simple answer is yes (since medical payments coverage will still provide valuable supplemental protection in the following ways).

Protected passengers
Believe it or not, medical payments coverage not only protects you, it also protects your passengers. If you get into an accident with all your friends in the car, med pay will also help cover their medical expenses.

Covered deductibles
There’s no telling what deductibles might come along with medical treatment — even post-health care reform. Luckily, medical payments coverage can actually help reimburse you for these pesky costs.

Additional treatments
Even as health insurance improves, there are still things you might need after a car accident that your plan doesn’t cover — like dental work or long-term nursing. Though we hope you never need it, med pay coverage could be the extra bit of protection that saves the day.

Insurance 101 | Around the nation


about Alex

As copywriter for Esurance, Alex had professional experience in everything from film to literature to (thanklessly!) correcting the grammar in friends' emails. As a fervent Minnesota sports fan, he spends most of his non-writing time gently weeping into cereal bowls.