Governor Edward G. Rendell discussed how two milestones from the federal Affordable Care Act -- better known as health care reform -- go into effect today, providing new, expanded options and consumer protections in insurance coverage for Pennsylvania families.
"Today is a day of health care milestones for Pennsylvania families as the next round of measures of the federal Affordable Care Act begin to go into effect, Governor Rendell said. "This is terrific news for families with adult children who are having trouble getting affordable health care coverage on their own, and all children who have pre-existing conditions.
"Tens of thousands of our young adults will now be able to access quality, affordable coverage through their parents' health plans. Also, children who were previously denied coverage due to a chronic condition, such as asthma or diabetes, will now have access to coverage and care," he added.
The first milestone, enabling college students, recent college graduates and other young adults to remain on their parents' insurance policies until age 26, officially goes into effect for all policies renewing after today, though most of Pennsylvania's health insurance companies have already begun to implement this provision.
Contrary to the myth that young adults do not need health insurance, one in six young adults have a chronic illness like cancer, diabetes or asthma. Nearly half of uninsured young adults report problems paying medical bills.
"Young adults are more likely to be uninsured than any other age group," Governor Rendell said. "As young adults transition into the job market, they may not always have access to employer-sponsored health coverage. Today, we are able to offer young Pennsylvanians access to coverage under a parent's plan as they continue their studies or forge ahead with their careers."
Marina Berriel, 20, of Hummelstown, joined Governor Rendell and said that being able to access coverage via her parents' health plan has given her the flexibility to secure an internship working in a dental office while attending community college part-time to pursue a career in dental hygiene. Prior to the new law, she was holding down two hourly-wage jobs while attending school full-time, just to be sure her health coverage remained in effect.
The second milestone discussed today ensures that children can no longer be denied coverage because they are sick or ill. The new law forbids denial of insurance to children with pre-existing conditions -- something that will take effect for all consumers in 2014.
"The no pre-existing condition exclusion for children, combined with the dependent coverage expansion, enables us to provide options to a large segment of our children and young adult population who have gone without coverage and possibly without care," Governor Rendell concluded.
Other consumer protections that take effect today include the elimination of lifetime limits on health insurance policies, new restrictions on when companies may cancel health coverage and a new appeals process for policyholders who dispute the denial of a medical claim, to name a few.