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New Health Reforms Take Effect
Date:9/23/2010

By Karen Pallarito
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Thursday marks the six-month anniversary of enactment of the sweeping U.S. health reform legislation, and the day that a number of key provisions of the law begin to take effect.

President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 23. The law will expand health insurance access to 94 percent of non-elderly Americans by 2019 and, in the interim, provides Americans with many new rights and protections.

"We're seeing the delivery of some of the first promises of reform and there's a lot more to come," said Karen Davenport, director of health policy at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for American Progress.

Here are some of the new reforms set to take effect Thursday. For health plans that operate on a calendar year, many of these provisions will be rolled out on Jan. 1, 2011:

  • Health plans may no longer deny coverage to children based on pre-existing health conditions.
  • Health plans that offer dependent coverage must allow children to stay on a parent's family policy until age 26.
  • New health plans must offer preventive services such as mammograms and colon cancer screenings without charging a deductible, co-payment or coinsurance. (This provision does not apply to existing plans that are "grandfathered," and health plans may require consumer cost-sharing for preventive services received out-of-network.)
  • Health plans that are not grandfathered must provide direct access to a gynecologist without requiring a referral from another doctor.
  • Insurers may no longer place lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits.

Eliminating lifetime caps should provide significant relief for people who are seriously ill or traumatically injured or whose newborn children run up substantial medical bills because of care they receive in a hospital's neonatal intensive care
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