The new health reform law will bring about sweeping changes to the American health care system, not the least of which involves extending health insurance coverage to millions of Americans that have previously gone without.
People who already have health insurance will also see changes and added consumer protections.
Here's a rundown of what to expect, and when, based on your situation.
Starting Sept. 23, 2010:
- Insurers can’t drop you. Stories of insurers hunting through applications for errors (often honest mistakes) as a way to deny coverage will be a thing of the past. Insurance companies will now have to prove you knowingly lied about the state of your health on your application before giving you the boot -- a practice called rescission. So, if you have insurance coverage, it’s yours to keep. This takes effect at the beginning of a health plan's new year. For most people, that means January 2011.
- Right to appeal. If your insurer denies a claim or won’t pay for treatment your doctor says you need, you're entitled to two different types of appeals: internal (your insurer reviews your case) and external (handled by an independent decision-maker).
Information about how to appeal should be easily found in your health plan materials. Instructions must also be sent to you when your insurer denies a claim.
Note: This doesn't apply to plans that were in effect or offered by an employer when health reform became law on March 23, 2010. Those plans are grandfathered unless they make major changes to copayments, deductibles, out-of-pocket limits, co-insurance, or other elements of the benefit package. Details are on Families USA’s web site.
- Preventive care covered. New health plans starting on or after Sep. 23, 2010 must pay in full for preventive care (grandfathered plans in the group and individual markets are exempt).That means blood work to check for conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure; cancer screenings (such as colonoscopies and mammograms); vaccines; and well baby and child visits are all free. No copayments or deductibles apply.