President Obama is expected to sign health care reform legislation today that will end many health insurance company abuses and improve the access to health care for many others. Our friends at The Huffington Post have put together a handy summary of the immediate efforts of the law. The highlights:
- An End To Pre-Existing Conditions
Health Insurers cannot deny children health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. A ban on the discrimination in adults will take effect in 2014.
- Small Business Tax Credits
Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will get tax credits covering up to 50% of employee premiums.
- Seniors Get 'Donut Hole' Rebate
Seniors will get a rebate to fill the so-called "donut hole" in Medicare drug coverage, which severely limits prescription medication coverage expenditures over $2,700. As of next year, 50 percent of the donut hole will be filled.
- More Young Adults Covered On Parents' Plans
The cut-off age for young adults to continue to be covered by their parents' health insurance rises to the age 27.
- No Lifetime Caps
Lifetime caps on the amount of insurance an individual can have will be banned. Annual caps will be limited, and banned in 2014.
- Adults With Pre-Existing Conditions Covered
A temporary high-risk pool will be set up to cover adults with pre-existing conditions. Health care exchanges will eliminate the program in 2014.
- New Insurance Plans Must Include Preventative Care
New plans must cover checkups and other preventative care without co-pays. All plans will be affected by 2018.
- The End Of 'Recissions'
Insurance companies can no longer cut someone when he or she gets sick.
- Transparency In Insurance Companies
Insurers must now reveal how much money is spent on overhead.
- Customer Appeals Process
Any new plan must now implement an appeals process for coverage determinations and claims.
- Indoor Tanning Services Tax
This tax will impose a ten percent tax on indoor tanning services. This tax, which replaced the proposed tax on cosmetic surgery, would be effective for services on or after July 1, 2010.
- Enhanced Fraud Abuse Checks
New screening procedures will be implemented to help eliminate health insurance fraud and waste.
- Medicare Expansion To Rural Areas
Medicare payment protections will be extended to small rural hospitals and other health care facilities that have a small number of Medicare patients.
- Deductions For Blue Cross Blue Shield
Non-profit Blue Cross organizations will be required to maintain a medical loss ratio -- money spent on procedures over money incoming -- of 85 percent or higher to take advantage of IRS tax benefits.
- Nutrient Content Disclosure
Chain restaurants will be required to provide a "nutrient content disclosure statement" alongside their items. Expect to see calories listed both on in-store and drive-through menus of fast-food restaurants sometime soon.
- Better Coverage For Early Retirees
The bill establishes a temporary program for companies that provide early retiree health benefits for those ages 55?64 in order to help reduce the often-expensive cost of that coverage.
- Better Consumer Information On The Web
The Secretary of Health and Human Services will set up a new Web site to make it easy for Americans in any state to seek out affordable health insurance options The site will also include helpful information for small businesses.
- Encouraging Investment in New Therapies
A two?year temporary credit (up to a maximum of $1 billion) is in the bill to encourage investment in new therapies for the prevention and treatment of diseases.
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