The new health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, may be confusing. Many of the changes affecting insurance coverage won’t go into affect until 2014, but if you’re starting new coverage after Sept. 23, 2010, you will be able to take advantage of some changes sooner than others. Likewise, if you are a retiree, or a youngster, you can take advantage of improved coverage.
Here are some things you may want to know regarding health care reform:
1. I’ve heard a few parts of the law will become effective as of September 23, 2010. What changes are coming soon?
• Providing Free Preventive Care – new plans must cover preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or co-insurance.
• Prohibiting Insurance Companies from Rescinding Coverage – makes it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage if an error or technical mistake is “found” in the policy holder’s application after claims are received (i.e., getting sick).
• Appealing Insurance Company Decisions – new policies allow consumers to appeal coverage determinations or claims and will establish an external review process.
• Eliminating Lifetime Limits on Insurance Coverage – insurance companies will not be allowed to impose lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits like hospital stays.
• Regulating Annual Limits on Insurance Coverage – insurance companies no longer will be able to restrict essential benefits such as hospital stays based on annual dollar limits on new policies. In 2014, such restrictions will be banned for all policies in individual and group plans.
• Prohibiting Denying Coverage of Children Based on Pre-Existing Conditions – new rules prevent insurance companies from denying any child coverage under the age of 19 due to a pre-existing condition.
2. What is being done to keep my health insurance premiums from increasing?