Washington, D.C. – Several important provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act go into effect today – six months after President Obama signed the bill into law – that make health coverage more accessible for families and individuals who would otherwise struggle to receive quality care. The provisions include:
• Extending Coverage for Young Adults
Under the new law, young adults will be allowed to stay on their parent’s plan until they turn 26 years old, providing savings for thousands of American families.
• Providing Free Preventive Care
All new plans must cover certain preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance.
• Prohibiting Insurance Companies from Rescinding Coverage
In the past, insurance companies could search for an error, or other technical mistake, on a customer’s application and use this error to deny payment for services when he or she got sick. The new law makes this illegal. During the health care debate, there were numerous media reports citing incidents of breast cancer patients suddenly losing coverage.
• Appealing Insurance Company Decisions
The law provides consumers with a way to appeal coverage determinations or claims to their insurance company, and establishes an external review process.
• Eliminating Lifetime Limits on Insurance Coverage
Under the new law, insurance companies will be prohibited from imposing lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits, like hospital stays.
• Regulating Annual Limits on Insurance Coverage
Under the new law, insurance companies’ use of annual dollar limits on the amount of insurance coverage a patient may receive will be restricted for new plans in the individual market and all group plans. In 2014, the use of annual dollar limits on essential benefits like hospital stays will be banned for new plans in the individual market and all group plans.
• Prohibiting Denying Coverage of Children Based on Pre-Existing Conditions
The new law includes new rules to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to children under the age of 19 due to a pre-existing condition.
Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva encouraged everyone to research the provisions and understand whether one or more of them apply to themselves or someone they know.
According to a May 2010 report from Families USA, almost 1.2 million Arizonans under age 65 have been diagnosed with a pre-existing health condition. Grijalva called the provision protecting children with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage “a big step in the right direction” until a similar provision for adults goes into effect in 2014. The Families USA Report, Help for Arizonans With Pre-Existing Conditions, found approximately 105,200 people statewide between infancy and 17 years of age who have a pre-existing condition.
The group also found, in a separate report, that in 2009, “339,000 non-elderly Arizona residents with insurance were in families that spent more than 25 percent of their pre-tax income on health care.”
“The Affordable Care Act was designed to make our health care system more fair, accessible and affordable for the American people, and these measures are good examples of why we needed to pass it,” Grijalva said. “Far from the death panel rhetoric we’ve been hearing, these are the kinds of common-sense measures that make getting, keeping and affording health care easier for people all over the country. Now your insurance company can’t decide to drop you because you recently became sick, or charge you an arm and a leg for a preventive screening. It would be cruel to repeal these uncontroversial measures, and I look forward to hearing how they’re making life in Southern Arizona easier for countless families starting today.”