In August 2009, I heard the story of now second-grader Thomas Wilkes from Englewood, whose family must spend - because of his hemophilia - $40,000 dollars a month to pay for life-sustaining medication. Because of annual limits imposed by insurance companies on benefits, Thomas' parents faced bankruptcy and the inability to pay for his care. They actually considered divorce just so that their respective income levels would qualify him for Medicaid in order for him to get the care he needed to stay alive.
No American family should ever be forced to make such a decision. And today, a wave of reforms passed as part of the health insurance reform bill will go into effect that will prevent families from ever having to go through what the Wilkeses have had to endure. As a result of these reforms, Thomas and his family can rest assured that his coverage will never stop because of arbitrary limits imposed by insurers.
These new protections mean that Americans - not insurance companies - will be in control of their own health care. In Colorado alone, as a result of the reforms going into effect today, 1.2 million children can no longer be denied health coverage because of a pre-existing condition; almost 500,000 young people will be allowed to stay on their parents' insurance policies until they turn 26; and thousands of children like Thomas will not be denied coverage because of arbitrary insurance industry caps.
After today, insurance companies will no longer be able to:
* Deny coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions.
* Put lifetime limits on benefits.
* Cancel your policy without proving fraud.
* Deny claims without a chance for appeal.
Consumers in new health plans will be able to:
* Receive cost-free preventive services.
* Keep young adults on a parent's plan until age 26.
* Choose a primary care doctor, ob/gyn and pediatrician.
* Use the nearest emergency room without penalty.