Reform's Six-Month Anniversary Marked By Implementation Of Key Changes

The Contra Costa Times: "Six months after passage of the federal health reform law, major provisions will kick in that supporters say will make it easier for Americans to get and keep health insurance. … Among the major changes: Insurance companies will no longer be able to cancel policies because someone becomes sick, set lifetime caps on coverage or deny insurance to children with pre-existing conditions. … In addition to enabling young people to remain on their parents' policies up to age 26, several other major provisions kick in on Thursday. They will be in effect during the next insurance 'open season' for consumers who receive coverage through an employer or the next time a consumer re-enrolls in or purchases a policy from an insurer" (Kleffman, 9/20).

The (Memphis, Tenn.) Commercial Appeal: "For many consumers, the changes won't take effect until their health plans are renewed. Most plans renew on Jan. 1. … But Thursday's changes have important finer points. Annual-limits restrictions may apply only to big-ticket items, such as hospitalization, but not to smaller ones, such as durable medical equipment — wheelchairs, for instance. And though that 25-year-old is welcomed back to his parents' plan even if he's married, his parents' plan can't cover his dependents and he isn't eligible for his parents' plan if his employer already offers insurance" (Sells, 9/21).

KCUR (Kansas City, Mo.) interviewed Ron Pollack, head of consumer advocacy group Families USA. Pollack said: "I don't know of anybody, including people like myself who are supporters of this legislation, who say this is perfect. I don't know of too many things that go through a legislative process that are perfect. It is a product of compromise. What I like to remind people about is, when you ask what you think is the most significant piece of legislation that was passed in the United States in our history, on everyone's list — whether it's one, two, three or ten — will be the Social Security Act of 1935. And what people don't remember or know is that when the Social Security Act passed in 1935, it didn't include farmer workers. It didn't include teachers. It didn't include domestic laborers. It excluded over half the women in the workforce. It excluded over two thirds of the people of color in the work force. Well, it created a foundation, and over the years since 1935 improvements have been made so the problems I just described no longer exist" (Gordon, 9/20).

The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union: Still other caveats to the new restrictions on insurer practices. "Employer-based plans created before the reform law are 'grandfathered' in and won't have to follow many of the new consumer-friendly rules. Those plans don't have to comply until they make certain policy changes, such as raising employee co-pays and deductibles; otherwise, they can wait until Jan. 1, 2014, when most of the act's provisions take effect" (Cox, 9/20).

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