Friday, March 22, 2013

Changes are coming to your health insurance

The Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Obama three years ago tomorrow and we are on the cusp of the major changes taking effect. To help you get a better sense of what this means for you, I thought I'd share with you this recent press release from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner that summarizes these changes quite nicely. Read on.... 

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Three years after the passage of the landmark Affordable Care Act and Washington state is now on the cusp of the biggest health care reform in decades.

“We’re busy at the state and federal level, working behind the scenes to make sure that health care reform lives up to its promise,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “But as we approach Jan.1, 2014, people want to know what the changes will mean to them.”

As early as October, you can start shopping for coverage in Washington state’s new online marketplace, the Healthplanfinder where it will be easy to compare plans, check prices, sign up for coverage and – depending on income – get help paying for it. Individuals earning up to almost $46,000 and a family of four earning up to $94,200 could qualify for subsidies.

“The financial help available through Washington’s new Healthplanfinder will be a lifeline for people who are uninsured or struggling to afford the coverage they have today,” said Kreidler.

To help you get ready for the coming changes, we’ve launched an expanded edition of our health reform website with specific information for individuals and families including:

·    Who has to have health insurance
·    Where you can buy it
·    How much it’ll cost
·    What it’ll cover

Additional resources for small businesses, large businesses and seniors will be added soon so check back often.  We expect to receive rate requests from health insurers for their individual and small employer plans starting in May on our health insurance rate transparency site. At that time, you’ll also see which insurers want to have health plans in the Healthplanfinder.

Sign up today to be notified by email if your health insurer requests a rate or benefit change.

The following reforms are already in place:

·      No out-of-pocket costs for preventive services,
·      Sick children can no longer be denied health insurance,
·      No lifetime caps on the amount an insurer will pay for covered benefits,
·      Young adults can stay on their parents’ health coverage until age 26,
·      And your health plan can’t be canceled, except if you lie on your application.

Other major reforms starting Jan. 1, 2014 include:

·      No one can be denied health insurance if they’re sick.
·      All individual and small employer health plans must cover essential health benefits, such as prescription drugs, hospitalization, maternity care and emergency services.

“The Affordable Care Act won’t fix everything that’s wrong with our health care system today,” said Kreidler. “I’m certain that just as we did with Medicare, we’ll need to make improvements. But the reforms in place now and those coming next year are a huge first step, and not a moment too soon.”

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