Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reform at Six Months

Starting today (or the first day of the next plan year starting after today),

  • No more pre-existing condition exclusions for kids to age 19
  • Kids to age 26 can stay on their parents' policy
  • Preventive care is free -- no copays or coinsurance
  • The new appeals provisions, including independent review, kick in
  • No more retroactive cancellations of policies
  • No more lifetime limits, and annual limits can't be less than $750,000 this year, phasing out over the next couple of years
  • No prior authorization required for emergency room care
  • Women can see ob-gyns without a referral
Kaiser Health News published a guide to Health Law's Big Day that discusses each of these changes in greater detail.

A collection of press:

Some people see relief starting today. One family's story. Another family's story. And another's. Read those stories and tell me that health reform isn't making a difference in people's lives.

The President visited with several people being helped by reform yesterday. He touted the new changes, explaining why health care was a major priority for his Administration, and he expressed regret that he has not done a better job of explaining to law to Americans. Others opined that this is the most significant piece of legislation in decades. The NY Times graded health reform implementation to date. HHS Secretary Sebelius focuses on what the changes mean for kids.

But there is no denying that health reform wasn't a major boost for the Democrats that they thought it would be. Americans remain skeptical, especially because of the steady drum beat of misinformation that has been spread by opponents of reform. And opponents continue to threaten to undermine or repeal the law if they take control of Congress in November.

From the insurer's perspective, there's a lot to change in a short time. Some even threaten to pull out of the individual market if the major cost-control provision -- what's called the medical loss ratio -- isn't phased in over time rather than taking effect in 2011.

From my perspective, I now have options to offer to people that didn't exist before. It's far from perfect, and many major provisions of the law don't take effect until 2014. But this is a great start that is making a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans.

From my perspective, this is something to celebrate. Jennifer

P.S. - A late addition, but I couldn't resist posting a link to this excellent piece by Connecticut's own Congressman John Larson.

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