As soon as President Obama signs the historic health care legislation passed by Congress tonight, the American people will see immediate benefits, including a guarantee that children can get health insurance — even if they have a pre-existing illness — and a measure that would let young adults stay on their parents’ policies until they turn 26.
The legislation will (either now, or in six months to one year):
- Prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans (6 months);
- Provide immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool (one year);
- Prohibit dropping people from coverage when they get sick in all individual plans;
- Lower seniors prescription drug prices by beginning to close the donut hole, giving them $250-$500 to help pay for drugs if they fall into that coverage gap;
- Offer tax credits to small businesses to purchase coverage;
- Eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all plans (6 months);
- Require all plans to accept an enrollee’s dependent children until age 27 (6 months);
- Require new plans to cover preventive services and immunizations without cost-sharing;
- Ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions;
- Require premium rebates to enrollees from insurers with high administrative expenditures and require public disclosure of the percent of premiums applied to overhead costs.
Many of the plan’s most important benefits won’t kick in until 2014. Those include the guarantee that anyone can buy insurance; the exchanges where individuals and small businesses can shop for policies — and the subsidies to help pay for them.