Major new health reform benefits take effect today to help keep health insurance companies accountable, lower health care costs, guarantee more health care choices, and enhance the quality of health care for all Americans.
Starting today, insurers will be required to:
- Keep you covered when you get sick: Simple mistakes or typos will no longer be grounds for insurance companies to cancel your insurance.
- Cover kids with pre-existing conditions: Your kids can no longer be denied health coverage just because they have a pre-existing condition like hay fever, asthma, or previous sports injuries. This protection extends to all plans, except "grandfathered" plans in the individual market.
- Allow young adults to stay on their parents' plan up to age 26: Even if their first few jobs don't provide health benefits, your kids can still remain covered by your insurance.
- Remove lifetime limits: You will no longer need to worry about your health insurer limiting the amount of coverage available through their plan if you face an expensive medical condition. This will help Americans who develop chronic conditions from taking drastic measures to avoid medical bankruptcy.
- Phase out annual limits: Many plans include annual dollar limits on how much medical coverage can be obtained per year. On all non-"grandfathered" plans in the individual market, these limits will be phased out over the next three years.
For any insurance plan that goes into effect after September 23, 2010, your insurance company must:
- Pay for preventive care like mammograms and immunizations: Addressing problems before they start can help keep you healthier, and new insurance plans will now cover many preventative tests and immunizations without any copayment.
- Give you a better appeals process for insurance claims: Now you'll have a guaranteed and fair path to help you receive the benefits you paid for if insurance companies deny your claim.
- Let you choose your own doctor: Health reform makes it clear that you can choose any available participating primary care provider as your provider, and any available participating pediatrician to be your child's primary care provider.
- Provide easier access to OB-GYN services: Women will no longer be required to have a referral from a primary care provider before seeking coverage for obstetrical or gynecological (OB-GYN) care from a participating OB-GYN specialist.
- Allow you to use the nearest emergency room without penalty: If an emergency arises while you're away, you will no longer have to drive home to your in-network provider to receive in-network benefits.
Many other new benefits of the law have already taken effect, including rebate checks for seniors in the donut hole and tax credits for small businesses. Keep watching, as more rights, protections and benefits for Americans are on the way now through 2014.
To learn more about how health care reform is helping you, visit healthcare.gov.
(The 10 major new health reform benefits take effect today was also cross-posted on the House Democrats blog.)