The changes include allowing children to remain on their parents’ health plans until age 26. The protections will apply to insurance plans that begin or renew after Thursday -- six months after President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. For many people with job-based coverage, the insurance changes will arrive Jan. 1, 2011, at the start of the new benefits year.
At the same time, the resistance is notching up. This week, as the consumer protections kick in, media reports have revealed that some major insurers, at least in part, will sidestep one new provision: denying coverage for children under age 19 who have pre-existing medical conditions.
Meanwhile, Republicans are pushing to repeal the law or block funding for key provisions. House Minority Leader John Boehner recently told the Cincinnati Enquirer: “They’ll get not one dime from us. Not a dime. There is no fixing this.’’
Elected officials from 20 states are challenging the law in court, focusing mainly on the reform requirement that individuals must purchase health insurance. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, a leader of this litigation, told Fox News recently, “There's nothing in the Constitution that allows the kind of tax they're proposing.’’
Health Reform Highlights
Aside from the two children-related changes, other reform provisions rolling out Thursday include:
- Removing lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits
- Giving people a right to appeal to an external party if denied coverage for a treatment
- Preventing insurers from dropping coverage of people when they get sick
- Limiting the use of annual spending limits of health plans
- Allowing consumers to use ob-gyns in their networks without needing a referral
- Prohibiting extra charges for using emergency care that is out of network
- Guaranteeing full coverage of many preventive services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, without a co-pay, co-insurance, or deductible
Nancy-Ann DeParle, the director of the White House Office of Health Reform, said these protections “will improve the health care system for everybody.”