The passage of health care reform several months ago came with promises that some almost immediate changes would be coming. While a number of the biggest changes will wait until 2014, there are nevertheless changes just recently gone into effect that will affect you now. Here are some of the changes that are in effect right now — and that may mean some savings for you, depending on your plan. Remember, though, that these changes won’t go into effect until your policy is renewed. For some, this is October 2010, and for some it may be January 2011. If your enrollment has already passed, you may have to wait until a little later to see of these changes. Pay attention to open enrollment this year, and you might notice some of these changes:
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- Dependent insurance until age 26: Your children can remain on your insurance policy until age 26 — provided they have no insurance option through their own work.
- Full coverage for preventative care: A certain amount of preventative care is now standard for plans, and you won’t need to wait until your deductible is met to receive the coverage.
- No limits on payments: Insurance companies cannot limit annual or lifetime payments.
- Pre-existing conditions for children: For those under the age of 19, insurance companies cannot deny insurance based on a pre-existing condition. (By 2014, no one will be denied for pre-existing conditions.)
- No dropping your coverage for illness: The practice of recission, or dropping your coverage when you get sick, is no longer allowed. Your insurance company cannot cancel your policy when you get sick.
- Non-network emergency room: Instead of forcing you to the emergency room the insurance company chooses, or charging you extra, you can now visit any emergency room without extra charge. You will still have to look in-network for non-emergency care.
- Help for retirees: There is a temporary reinsurance program available for retired persons 55 and older who do not qualify for Medicare, but still need some sort of coverage.
Increasing Insurance Premiums a Concern
While some of these provisions might result in some lower out of pocket health expenses at the time of care, there are some concerns about what might happen with health insurance premiums. If preventative care is covered 100%, some insurance companies might increase premiums to reflect that. You might also see increases in coverage costs if you are adding your 25 year old dependent back on your plan after he or she was dropped at 23. Additionally, even though a child with a pre-existing condition cannot be denied coverage, the amount you pay is likely to be quite high. The same thing is true if you experience an expensive illness. You may not be dropped from coverage, but your insurance rate will go up.
How To Prepare for Rising Health Care Costs
Preparing for increased health care costs makes sense, since, even without health care reform expenses are forever rising. You can prepare by shopping around for the best value, and, if appropriate, pairing a high deductible plan with a Health Savings Account.
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