You might have read that as of today, September 23, 2010, consumers will have several new rights when dealing with health insurance companies:
- Children can no longer be turned down for health insurance due to pre-existing conditions.
- Your insurer can no longer cancel your health insurance policy if you get sick.
- Your insurer can no longer charge you a co-pay for preventive care or tests such as mammograms and colonoscopies.
- If you have a medical emergency and need to go to an out-of-network hospital, insurers can’t charge you additional fees.
- You won’t need a referral from your primary care physician to visit your Ob-Gyn.
- Insurance companies can no longer cap the dollar amount of lifetime benefits available to you for essential medical care.
- You now have a right to appeal to an outside authority if your insurer denies a claim.
- Your adult children can stay on your health insurance policy up to the age of 26.
One thing the above should tell you: you’ve lost your last excuse for putting off that mammogram (make an appointment today, if you haven’t yet).
These changes are hugely valuable – but most people don’t yet know about them.
And the above are just the beginning. The Kaiser Family Foundation has one of the most comprehensive explanations I’ve seen of just how healthcare reform is likely to affect you and your family. And while you’re at the website, check out the animated video for an entertaining, thorough explanation of your expanded rights under the new legislation. It covers just about every question you might have.
- Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH