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U.S. Health Reform Starts to Take Hold
Date:7/18/2010

By Karen Pallarito
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Seniors whose drug costs push them into Medicare's "donut hole" and parents whose children are uninsurable due to pre-existing health conditions are among the first Americans to see tangible effects of the nation's historic health reform law.

The public is still split -- pro and con -- over the comprehensive health legislation, polls show. But as the first provisions of the Affordable Care Act begin to take effect, consumer sentiment appears to be on the upswing. The percentage of Americans with a favorable view of the law jumped 7 percentage points to 48 percent in June, according to the latest polling data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Forty-one percent have an unfavorable outlook.

"From an individual [standpoint], there's a lot that could be positive," said attorney Chantel Sheaks, a principal in the Washington, D.C., office of Buck Consultants, a benefits consulting firm.

The law, for example, requires individual and group insurers that cover dependents to extend that coverage to adult children until the age of 26.

"For a lot of parents, that's very positive, especially given this economy where younger adults are having difficulty finding jobs -- and finding jobs that actually have good benefits," Sheaks said.

Like many of the law's early provisions, the age-26 requirement takes effect on or after Sept. 23, 2010. For health insurance plans that operate on a calendar year, new benefits typically would take effect on Jan. 1, 2011. However, some insurers are extending health insurance to young adults ahead of the deadline, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The sweeping health overhaul signed into law by President Barack Obama in March sets in motion a series of reforms that will be carried out over the next several years. Core elements of the reform package, including the creation of sta
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