Some new healthcare benefits start September 23

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Young adults protected: extended dependent coverage, and other new benefits
 New healthcare benefits will protect health care consumers, increase access, improve quality and lower costs for young adults, kids and people with pre-existing conditions
(From the Campaign For Better Healthcare) 

HHS Regional Director Cristal Thomas joined members of the Campaign for Better Health Care at Northwestern University to discuss the national expansion of dependent coverage to age 26 in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and inform young adults and families how they can access the benefit.
Joining Director Thomas were Jonathan VanderBrug, Health Care Justice Campaign Director, Emily Mueller of Illinois PIRG, and local residents Jane Beckett, parent of a university student, and Mark Kraemer, parent of a student born with leukemia, a pre-existing condition.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we have begun to create a more competitive, consumer-friendly healthcare marketplace, to crack down on the worst insurance company practices, and to provide real benefits to the people of Illinois,” said Cristal Thomas, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Regional Director. Jonathan VanderBrug, Health Care Justice Campaign director, added, “What we want, and what this law provides, are stability, security, and competition. While the new law isn’t perfect, what it means now is a great first step as we begin to improve it: we can keep our coverage but know that we won’t be getting constant premium increases; or we can lose our job and not our health care; or our kids can be covered until they turn 26 years old.”

In Illinois, an estimated 433,000 young adults between the ages of 19 to 25 are currently uninsured.  On Thursday, September 23, another set of benefits of the new health reform law will take effect, including new consumer protections that increase access to affordable care for young adults by extending coverage for them on their parents’ policies until age 26.

Jane Beckett’s daughter has not had health insurance since she was eliminated from her parents’ plan more than five years ago.  Jane said, “My 24-year old daughter has not had health insurance since she turned 19. She has used various patchwork public-benefit programs such as Illinois Women’s Health, but has basically paid for health care out of pocket, not an easy thing on her minimum wage income. A bad accident or serious illness would have wiped her out financially, and possibly her parents as well. The individual insurance policies that she qualified for had very limited coverage and were still more expensive than she could afford.  Now, due to PPACA, she can get back on our insurance for $80 per month until she turns 26. Young people need insurance too – this is such a relief!”

Extended coverage for young adults is just one of the new benefits of the health care law rolling out on September 23.  On that day, new consumer protections go into effect prohibiting insurance companies from taking your coverage away when you get sick and need it most, eliminating lifetime caps, and prohibiting denying children coverage because of pre-existing conditions.   The new provisions will also improve quality and lower costs by requiring all new plans to cover certain preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance.

Jim Duffett, Executive Director of the Campaign for Better Health Care, said, “Over the past six months, two phrases have become more prominent in the vocabulary of consumers throughout Illinois and our nation:  Not Any More, and Peace of Mind.  Will we need to worry about our children being denied health care because of pre-existing conditions like asthma or diabetes, or because they have graduated college?  Not Any More.  Will insurance companies be able to suddenly cancel our coverage right when we get sick and have to use the insurance we pay for every month?  Not Any More. Will the sickest among us face an abrupt end to their insurance coverage because they have hit a lifetime cap?  Not Any More.  And if not having to worry about those real possibilities anymore isn’t real peace of mind, I don’t know what is. “

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