Q: When will I start to see changes to my health plan because of health care reform? A: Many of the provisions in the new law will not take effect for several years. At the earliest, provisions that affect individual health plans will take effect six months from the date of enactment-in late September.
Q: Do I need to do anything differently, now that health care reform is law? A: No, you can use your health plan as you normally would.
Q: Will my premium change due to health care reform? Will more services be covered? A: It's hard to say how your plan's benefit design and premium rates might change until we know more about the law and how state and federal regulatory agencies will apply its provisions.
Q: What about "grandfathered" health plans? A: Under the new law, the plan you have as of March 23, 2010, is considered a "grand fathered" plan. Such plans are exempt from many-but not all-reforms. New plans, effective after March 23, 2010, are not "grandfathered" and will be subject to changes that could cause premiums to rise higher than they otherwise would. For example, the new law will eventually eliminate annual limits on certain key health benefits and require plans to include a mandatory package of "essential benefits." While such benefits may appear attractive, they also can make premiums more expensive. You may lose your rights to a "grandfathered" plan if you make changes to your existing health plan.
You switch to a plan that pays a lower coinsurance percentage
You increase your deductible by more than 18 percent
You choose a plan with higher copayments.
You choose a plan that eliminates all or most benefits for a particular condition.
You enroll in a new plan-with the same insurance company or a different one-that has an effective date anytime after March 23, 2010.
Other changes, such as increasing your benefits or adding coverage for a family member, will not cause you to lose "grandfathered" status.
Q: I've read that reform is suppose to lower health costs. A: Any premium changes-up or down-due to health care reform will occur in the future. Not all of the law's rules and regulations have been released, so it's difficult to understand the full impact of health care reform on any member's specific premiums.
Q: Does the new health care reform law provide me with free health care coverage? A: NO. The new law does not mean that you're now covered under a free government health plan. Such a change is not part of the new health care reform law. One of the goals of the health care reform is to create additional health insurance options, whether from private health insurers or expanded public programs like Medicaid. The new law includes additional provisions designed to help low-and moderate-income people afford health care coverage. Under the new law, 2014 premium assistance for uninsured individuals with incomes between 133-400 percent of the federal poverty level will be available for plans purchased through new, state-run exchanges. The amount of assistance will depend on your income. The lower your income, the more assistance you can expect. Also in 2014, Medicaid will expand to cover people with annual incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. That's $29,327 for a family of four. If you think you qualify, the agency that oversees Medicaid in your state can likely give you more information. As always, you should carefully evaluate your personal situation and insurance options before making any decisions about your health care coverage. Only you can make sure you have the health insurance coverage that you and your family need and want.
Q: I would like to continue coverage for my child who is over 21. Can I do that? A: A provision of the new health care reform law allows adult children to remain on their parents' plan until their 26th birthday. This provision takes effect on September 23, 2010.
Q: My family member has a pre-existing condition and isn't eligible for coverage right now. When will they be able to get coverage? A: We know that many people are eager to obtain coverage. The new law says that starting in 2014, health plans cannot have pre-existing condition limits and will be guaranteed. The new law also ends pre-existing condition limits for dependent children under the age of 19 under certain plans sooner than 2014. When this goes into effect, insurance companies won't be able to:
Deny coverage to a child because of a pre-existing condition
Deny payment for a child's treatment because the treatment is related to a pre-existing condition.
These rules will apply to all types of health insurance, except for individual policies that are "grandfathered." Not all of the rules and regulations have been released, so it's difficult to understand the full impact of health care reform on any specific person's coverage.