Elements of health care law taking effect

By Carrie Teegardin, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Key elements of the nation’s health care overhaul begin to take effect today, six months after President Obama signed the controversial legislation into law.

The provisions will extend new protections and coverage options to consumers, but the insurance industry warned that the new requirements will lead to higher premiums for everyone. Among those provisions:

  • Parents may keep their children on the family health insurance to age 26, if the child is not offered coverage through an employer.
  • Insurers may no longer deny coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition.
  • Lifetime limits on essential benefits like hospital stays are abolished.
  • Insurers must pay for such preventive services as immunizations, mammograms and colonoscopies, without charging consumers deductibles, co-pays or co-insurance fees.

The changes imposed by the Patent Protection and Affordable Care Act, enacted March 23, won’t be immediate for most consumers. The changes won’t take effect until a consumer buys a new policy or renews an existing one. And insurers can avoid some of the requirements, such as the free preventive services, if they make no significant changes to their current plan.

“For Georgia, it really means that people are going to have more options,” said Kathleen D. Stoll, director of health policy at Families USA, a non-profit organization that favors the law. “People who have insurance will have more protections and insurance companies will treat them more fairly.”

Representatives of the insurance industry and critics of the health care law said that higher costs would inevitably result.

“Everybody hates the big, bad insurance companies, but when you raise their expenses that money is going to have to come from somewhere, and that money is going to come from increased premiums passed onto consumers,” said Vincent Frakes, an expert on health policy at the Center for Health Transformation, which was founded by Newt Gingrich.

While the intent of the law is to expand coverage, the requirements may have the effect of limiting options in some cases.

To read more, visit: http://www.ajc.com/news/elements-of-health-care-619455.html

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