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Health Insurance Consumer Protection

I will leave the politics of health insurance reform to others. Whatever your political persuasion there are important consumer protections provided by the new legislation that all Americans ought to know about. According to the White House's own website...

Under the law the following consumer protections will begin this year:

(1) Uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions will have the choice of quality, affordable insurance through a new insurance pool;
(2) Small business owners will be eligible for billions in tax credits to help offer insurance coverage to employees;
(3) New plans will have to offer preventive care and immunizations at no cost;
(4) New plans and certain existing plans that offer dependent coverage will have to cover an enrollee's dependent children until age 26;
(5) A re-insurance program for employers that offer health insurance to their early retirees will save as much as $1,200 for every family enrolled;
(6) A new website to help consumers compare different insurance coverage options along with state-by-state health care consumer assistance and ombudsman for any of their health insurance questions;
(7) A new independent appeals process for new plans so consumers and patients can appeal insurance company decisions;
(8) Prohibits new plans and existing group health plans from denying coverage for children because of a pre-existing medical condition;
(9) Review of requested insurance premium increases -- health insurers with a pattern of excessive rate increases can be blocked from selling through new insurance exchanges;
(10) Remove arbitrary lifetime limits on coverage in all plans, and remove restrictive annual limits on benefits in all new plans and existing group health plans so people know that all of the care they need will be paid for;
(11) Prevent insurance companies from dropping insurance coverage when a person gets sick and needs it most.

Additionally, the Kaiser Family Foundation has an excellent outline which summarizes the timeline for health reform implementation here.

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