Health Reform: What Happens Now (later in 2010)

Many people are trying to figure out what the immediate impact of the health reform bill for their small businesses or their own personal insurance situation. Quite honestly, the insurance companies are among them. Until the various regulations and definitions are issued, the situation will remain somewhat fluid. Most of the big changes go into effect Here’s what we know will happen in 2010:

* Prohibition on “Recissions.” This is the much ballyhooed promise that insurance companies will not be able to drop anyone from coverage when they get sick. The only reason an individual or group could be dropped would be due to material misrepresentation/fraud. This is political theater more than it is change, however, because this was already the law in 48 states.

* No lifetime annual maximums. Most policies have lifetime maximum benefits in the $1-5 million range currently. These maximums will be lifted for policies that are sold or renew on or after October 1, 2010.

* Extension of dependent coverage through age 25. Kids can stay on their parents’ health plan through age 25 on policies sold or renewing on or after October 1, 2010. Essentially student verification no longer matters. In fact, a kid can be married and still be covered (though the spouse could not).
(A footnote here: If this affects you and your child, you could look at a short-term health plan to bridge the gap until your child qualifies to continue on your policy).

* Coverage for preventive health services. Much here depends on how the HHS regulations define “essential services.” Many plans alraedy to this, though the annual caps will be removed for essential services. All preventive care will be covered in 2014.

* Children under 19 can be covered on their parents’ health plan with no restrictions on pre-existing conditions. There has been much confusion on exactly what this looks like. In the afterglow of the bill’s passage, politicians were saying there would be guaranteed-issue plans for kids, but the bill doesn’t actually say that – it says that pre-existing conditions cannot be excluded from a policy.. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

AC Forrest is committed to helping you navigate the constantly changing health insurance landscape. As these regulations are written and things become more clear, we’ll be sure to let you know. Now more than ever you need a trusted insurance broker at your side, and we’d love to serve you in that capacity!