U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today released the following statement on the six-month anniversary of enactment of the landmark health care reform bill. Starting today, September 23, many key reforms of the bill- making up a "Patient's Bill of Rights"-will take effect. These reforms include a ban on lifetime limits on coverage, critical to individuals with illnesses such as cancer; a ban on arbitrary coverage rescissions, which will prohibit health insurance companies from canceling coverage for any reason aside from fraud or intentional misrepresentation; and a ban on coverage denials for children with pre-existing conditions.
"Starting today, health care companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on coverage, exclude children with pre-existing conditions from plans, or arbitrarily drop consumers from coverage," said Brown. "Six months ago, the President signed a law that was written to allow Americans to take control of their health care choices. These reforms deliver fairness in a system that was for many years was designed to benefit insurers, not patients."
What Reform Has Meant to Real Ohioans So Far
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), our new health reform law has already provided:
* Nearly 40,000 Ohio seniors with $250 rebate checks to help with their prescription drug costs;
* 35,000 young adults in Ohio with the ability to remain on, or get back on, their parent's health insurance plans;
· 462 uninsured Ohioans with pre-existing conditions the ability to obtain affordable health insurance (as of 9/17/2010).
In addition, a number of important, consumer-friendly websites have been launched to help Ohioans understand the new health reform law and to better understand their options. Earlier this summer, HHS launched www.healthcare.gov - a one-stop-shop that helps consumers take control of their health care coverage. Beginning in the fall, this website will list prices of various health plans so consumers can better compare their coverage options.
Starting Today: New Consumer Protections Will Begin
Starting today, a number of new consumer protections - collectively dubbed a "Patient's Bill of Rights" - will begin.
Many important health insurance reforms will take effect when consumers renew or purchase a health insurance plan starting on September 23, 2010. For instance, from now on, when a consumer renews or purchases coverage, most plans will be required to comply with important new consumer protection provisions such as:
* No lifetime limits on coverage;
* No rescissions (or arbitrary cancelling of coverage) except in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of material fact;
* Coverage of most adult children up to age 26;
* Coverage of preventive services with no cost sharing;
* Access to OB / GYNs without referrals;
* New restrictions to prevent insurers from placing unreasonable annual limits on your coverage;
* No exclusion of coverage for children with pre-existing conditions (up to age 19);
* Access to out-of-network emergency room services; and
* A strengthened appeals process.
Even more consumer protection reforms take place in 2014, including no pre-existing condition exclusions (regardless of age), no gender discrimination in premiums, no annual limits, protections for patients enrolled in clinical trials, and limitations on how much an insurer can vary their prices based on age.
Already this year, Medicare beneficiaries who hit the prescription drug coverage gap (also known as the "donut hole") have or will receive a one-time $250 rebate check in the mail. Beginning next year, Medicare beneficiaries will receive a 50% discount on brand-name drugs and biologics purchased in the "donut hole." By 2020, the "donut hole" will be eliminated completely.
Beginning on January 1, 2011, Medicare beneficiaries will receive a free, annual wellness visit and will have no cost-sharing for preventive services (like colonoscopies and mammograms).
New Insurance Marketplace and Tax Credits
Beginning in 2014, individuals and small businesses will be able to compare and shop for health insurance online. Consumers will have their choice of quality, affordable health insurance plans, presented in an easy-to-understand format. To help make health insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income individuals and families, tax credits will become available in 2014. According to Families USA, more than one million Ohioans will be eligible for these tax credits in 2014.