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Friday, June 25, 2010

We're not going back

This past Tuesday, President Obama delivered a message to the health insurance industry, opponents of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and all the naysayers who think health care reform won’t succeed:

“We’re not going back. I refuse to go back.”

During the President’s remarks, he also unveiled the Patient’s Bill of Rights. The Patient’s Bill of Rights are a set of regulations—issued by the Departments of Health and Human Services, the Treasury, and Labor—designed to guide the new laws established in the Affordable Care Act.

So, what’s the bottom line for consumers? The Patient’s Bill of Rights outlines some changes in policy that will go into effect this year, including the following:

• Insurance plans issued on or after September 23, 2010 (except individual plans that have been “grandfathered”) cannot deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition to children under the age of 19.

• Insurance plans issued on or after September 23, 2010 cannot retroactively revoke coverage when you get sick or because of a mistake in your paperwork.

• All plans and policies issued or renewed on or after September 23, 2010 are prohibited from having a lifetime limit on coverage costs.

• Health plans and insurers will not be able to charge higher cost-sharing (copayments or coinsurance) for emergency services that are obtained out of a plan’s network (with the exception of grandfathered plans).

Before his announcement, the President also met with the insurance industry and shared some of the following insights:

The CEOs here today need to know that they’re going to be required to publicly justify unreasonable premium increases … we’ll be watching closely, and we’ll fully support states if they exercise their review authority to keep excessively expensive plans out of their insurance exchanges.

It is clear that the Administration will continue to engage all stakeholders in the implementation process. That sentiment was echoed when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius followed up President Obama’s announcement with a video in which she answered questions from the About.com community.