The President set the first regulations implementing the landmark health reform law yesterday. He issued a stern warning to the corporate Republican leadership: We are not going back. in September, any of the benefits of the new law start kicking in. Let me summarize them in short:
- No more pre-existing condition exclusion for children. This was perhaps the cruelest practice of the insurance industry - refusing to cover children who were sick (either form birth or through another avenue). The White House estimates 51,000 children will gain coverage due to this change in the law.
- Lifetime limits go away. Nearly 100 million Americans are now enrolled in plans that impose lifetime benefit caps.
- Annual coverage limits are to be no lower than $750,000 this year, $2 million in 2012, and are completely eliminated in 2014.
- Insurance companies are no longer able to drop your coverage when you get sick, nor can they drop you unintentional mistakes in applications. Only intentional falsification of your application now negate your policy.
- Guaranteed choice of primary care doctors and pediatricians.
The administration will also be watching like a hawk, making sure that insurance companies do not hike their rates simply to jack it up before all the regulations go into effect. More detailed information on all of these is available on the HHS website. In addition, on July 1, adults currently ineligible for insurance coverage due to pre-existing conditions will be able to enroll in a national high-risk pool. For my readers, I will try to provide as much information on this as possible as they become available over the next few days. I do believe, however, that Congress needs to appropriate additional funds (the original law provides for $5 billion for this program until 2014, when insurance companies will be required to accept adults with pre-existing conditions as well) for this program to work at full capacity and serve all those who need it.