Monday, March 22, 2010

Other Immediate Effects of Health Care Reform

Consumer Reports has more of the immediate results we'll see with health care reform:

  • An end to rescissions. Within six months of enactment, insurance companies will no longer be able to retroactively cancel individual coverage on people who get sick and start filing expensive claims.
  • A crackdown on excessive premium hikes. The White House proposes to immediately create a new national Health Insurance Rate Authority that would review premiums and, if they turned out to be unreasonable, have the power to lower them or even force health plans to pay back overcharges to consumers.
  • Better value for your premium dollar. Right now, buying insurance on your own is a bit of a crapshoot because it's hard to tell good policies from bad ones. As soon as reform becomes law, health plans will have to start publicly reporting the proportion of your premiums that they spend on health services, as opposed to what they spend on administration, profit, marketing, and executive perks. Within a year after reform, if insurers are spending less than 80 percent of premiums on health care for individual or small group policies, or 85 percent for large-group policies, they'll have to pay customers a rebate. They'll also be prohibited from imposing lifetime benefit limits, and the use of annual benefit limits will be restricted, giving you more confidence in the policy you purchase.
  • Help for small businesses. Starting immediately, small businesses can get a tax credit of up to 35% for their share of their employees' health premiums as long as they contribute at least half of the cost. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees, and average annual wages of less than $50,000, are eligible for the credits.


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