July 10, 2010

The White House is continuing to roll out different pieces of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, mostly on or ahead of schedule. Here's what has been done in the last two weeks:

  • Second round of checks to seniors mailed this week: More than 300,000 seniors will receive their $250 rebate to assist with prescription drug costs in accordance with the new law.
  • Patients' Bill of Rights rollout - Regulations were published on June 22, 2010 with consumer protections which take effect September 23, 2010. Among them: Children under age 19 with pre-existing conditions may not be excluded from coverage; rescissions are prohibited, lifetime coverage limits are banned, and annual limits on benefits are severely restricted. In addition, patients must be permitted to choose their own primary care doctor, no referrals are required for women to see their OB-GYN, and prior approvals are not required for emergency care at out-of network hospitals.
  • Healthcare.gov launched last week - This is to be the central online site for information about insurance rates, available plans, and other information related to the Affordable Care Act. It's in its infancy right now -- there's some basic tools and information, but keep it bookmarked because they're building the site out to be the central clearinghouse for information and communication about your health plan.

One of the keys to making this work will be what I like to call 'rate hawkery'. In other words, states and the feds need to work together to really review insurers' rates and hold their feet to the fire. Healthcare.gov will be where insurers will be publishing their financial data as required under the new law. Expect to use that site as a resource if you're having any difficulty at all with your health insurance, insurer, benefits, or coverage.

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