Tuesday, June 22, 2010

White House Releases 'Patient Bill of Rights'

Marking the first 90 days since he signed health care reform into law President Barack Obama spelled out how the short term benefits would be implemented.  The big items such as expanding coverage for the 32 million of the uninsured does not occur until 2014.

I wrote in my previous post that insurance rates are rising, which is knock against health care reform.  I see the White House release of the patients bill of rights as a publicity stunt to gain back traction for the reform. With the said, lets analyses the so called short term benefits.

— Guaranteed coverage for children with pre-existing health problems. The administration estimates that about 540,000 children with health problems are uninsured, and some 51,000 are likely to gain coverage. It's still unclear whether families will be able to afford the premiums. The law does not limit what insurers can charge.
It’s still unclear how insurance companies will price the new guaranteed coverage for children. If premiums are too high, families may still be unable to get health insurance.  Though I do love the effort of making sure all of our children are covered.

—A ban on lifetime coverage limits. More than 100 million people are enrolled in plans that currently impose such limits, the White House said.
This cap allowed the actuaries to set premiums and keep them down.  The removal of the cap will automatically increase the risk for the insurance companies and thus increasing the premiums.

— Phasing out annual coverage limits. Starting this year, plans can set annual limits no lower than $750,000. Such limits rise to $2 million in 2012, and will be completely prohibited in 2014.
See my comment above.

— Forbidding insurers from canceling the policies of people who get sick. Unintentional mistakes on application forms cannot be used to revoke a policy.
I actually like the first part of these benefit, i don't believe insurance carriers can cancel peoples policies because they are sick.  That is part of the risk for the insurance companies and they should not be allowed to just cut it to increase profits.  As for the part of unintentional mistakes, i love to see the definition of unintentional mistake.

— Guaranteed choice of primary care doctors and pediatricians from a plan’s network. No referral needed for women to see an ob-gyn specialist. No prior approval needed to seek emergency care out-of-network.
These is straight forward and i try to avoid carriers that don't already follow this approach.
The new rules apply to most health plans, except in cases where they are “grandfathered” under the law.


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