Six months ago, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, aka, the Healthcare Bill, and today, some of those reforms will become law. Here are some benefits that could affect you and your kids:
- Your kids can't be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions like hay fever, asthma, or previous sports injuries. If you buy an individual health policy in October for you and your child who has been treated for asthma in the past, and she has an asthma attack a month later, the insurer can't deny payment for the hospitalization based on your daughter's pre-existing asthma condition.
- Your kids can stay on your health plan until they're 26. Young adults can stay on their parents coverage whether they're married, living with you, in school, financially dependent on you, eligible to enroll in their employer's plan, or none of the above.
- Insurers can no longer take coverage away from your kids when they get sick. In the past, health insurers could rescind or retroactively cancel your coverage if you or your employer made an honest mistake on your application, like forgetting to mention a psychologist visit or even making a typo. Now, as long as you don't intentionally misrepresent significant information, your coverage can not be taken away.
- Insurers can no longer put a limit on the amount of coverage you can receive. Many health plans used to set an annual or lifetime limit -- a dollar limit on how much money they would spend on you -- and you were required to pay the rest, a big problem if you end up with a serious or chronic illness. Under the new law, lifetime limits on most benefits are prohibited in any health plan or insurance policy issued or renewed after today.
For any insurance plan that goes into effect after today:
- Your insurance company must pay for preventive care. This means you could gain easier access to vaccines for diseases like measles or meningitis; flu and pneumonia shots; counseling, screening and vaccines for healthy pregnancies; and regular well-baby and well-child visits from birth to age 21.
- You have the right to appeal decisions, including claims denials and rescissions, made by your health plan.
- You can choose your doctor
- You no longer need a referral from a primary care provider before you can seek coverage for OB-GYN care from a participating OB-GYN specialist.
- You can use the nearest emergency room without paying extra or having to get prior approval.