Some Health Insurance Changes Set To Take Effect Next Week

Kaiser Health News: On Sept. 23, a number of health law provisions will go into effect, including a ban on lifetime caps on health benefits, a practice some insurance plans use to restrain costs. For one family with two children with hemophilia whose treatments cost around $250,000 a year, that's a reassuring change that means "more freedom" for the kids. Other Sept. 23 changes include a requirement that plans allow adult children up to age 26 to remain on their parents' policies, a prohibition of pre-existing condition exclusions for children, a restriction on annual coverage limits, and a requirement that more preventive services are covered (Andrews, 9/14).

NPR: Relatively few people are affected by lifetime caps on benefits. Though most plans have them, many people only face a few thousand dollars in claims a year. A lot of folks with much higher health costs each year would have to change jobs to avoid "capping out" when their spending consumed the lifetime limit. Also, these limits have often covered entire families, rather than individuals (Rovner, 9/14).

The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog: "According to a survey of 1,000 adults conducted last month by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, only 14 percent identified September 2010 as the date when a handful of early measures kick in. (While that's technically true, some people may not actually see the changes in coverage until January 2011, when the new plan year begins)" (Hobson, 9/13).

Politico: Still on the horizon are insurance exchanges that states must set up to begin functioning by 2014. "States are struggling to come up with rules for health insurance trading posts they can set up under the health care law. The exchanges will function as marketplaces for individuals and small businesses to purchase health insurance, often with subsidies from the federal government. While they won't come online until January 2014, states need to get moving quickly to come up with the right plan." One federal official said, "The marketplace has to be sustainable, financially viable options that provide meaningful coverage, so as states contemplate the regulation around an exchange, that regulation has to be designed with that objective" (Kliff, 9/14).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.