September 23rd marked six months since President Barack Obama signed the new health care reform bill into law. The new law contains a plethora of measures that aim to reform and improve the overall quality and availability of health care in America. However, most of the law's measures did not go into effect immediately upon the bill's passage. The first major milestone occurred yesterday, on September 23rd, when several key measures were implemented, some affecting almost everyone, others only initially affecting those with new and heavily revised insurance plans (with similar changes affecting all plans a little further in the future). Here are some of the ones I believe are most important:
- The lifetime limit or cap on what an insurance company will pay to cover an individual's medical costs is being eliminated for plans issued or renewed on or after September 23rd. So if you get very sick and require extensive, lengthy, and costly treatment, you no longer have to worry about your insurance "capping out" when you need it the most.
- Free preventative care for those with plans issued or renewed on or after September 23rd.
- Annual limits can no longer be lower than $750,000 for plans issued or renewed on or after September 23rd. By 2014 annual limits will be entirely eliminated.
- Insurers can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.
- Parents can keep their adult children on their health plans until age 26.
- Insurers can no longer cancel policies retroactively when a person becomes ill.
An Associated Press article has more details about these and other changes. Perhaps most significantly to some, health insurance benefit consulting companies have estimated that the cost impact of the new benefits from the health care law on insurance premiums will be relatively small. Some of the worst practices of health insurance companies, that have ruined the lives of many Americans, are coming to an end with these changes.