U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz announced that several important consumer protections of health care reform will go into effect today. These provisions will end insurance company abuses and put families and their doctors back in control of their own health care.
"Today, important provisions of the health care reform law will go into effect. These new consumer protections will help families obtain better care, lower health care costs, and increase the security of their coverage.
"While the debate on this bill was long and arduous at times, these reforms are now a reality and making a difference in the lives of families, individuals and businesses in my district and across the country. I worked hard to ensure that some of these provisions were included in the final law to give families peace of mind that they won't go bankrupt if someone they love gets sick, to give patients more choices and better quality of care, and to put consumers in control of their health care.
"Along with many significant provisions already underway, today, even more great changes will go into effect. It is now law that no child can be denied insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition. I introduced this bill, championed it throughout health care reform, and I am so proud to say that we finally achieved this protection for families.
"In addition, all insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping people's coverage when they get sick and all plans must allow young adults to remain on their parent's coverage until their 26th birthday, bridging the gap between college and the workplace.
"These benefits will put an end to some of the most egregious insurance company practices and help families feel more secure about their health care coverage."
Other reforms going into effect today will improve the quality of insurance and prevent consumers from getting stuck with sky-high medical bills:
· All insurance plans are prohibited from imposing lifetime limits on coverage--so people with costly diseases won't see their coverage evaporate when they are most ill.
· All employer plans and new individual plans are restricted from setting annual limits on coverage.
· All new plans must have an effective internal and external appeals process--so if consumers want to appeal a decision their insurance company makes, the appeal isn't lost in corporate bureaucracy.
Many important changes are already making a difference for Pennsylvanians.
* Every state now has a high-risk insurance program, providing coverage for people who were previously denied because of a pre-existing condition.
* Seniors who reach the prescription drug "donut hole' are receiving $250 checks in the mail to help them afford their medications.
* Early retirees are benefiting from a program that helps their employers continue their health coverage.
* And four million businesses are eligible to receive tax credits to help with the cost of providing coverage to their employees.
Over the next several years, this new law will continue to reform the health insurance marketplace--creating health insurance exchanges where consumers can comparison shop for coverage; offering tax credits to help working families afford coverage; reducing families' health care costs; and reducing the federal deficit."
For more information about these provisions and other ways that health reform will help you, please visit www.healthcare.gov.