Other features of the new healthcare reform law are effective instantly, and offer more protections. Improvements include (but are not limited to):
- There are no longer any lifetime limits on benefits.
- Young adults up to age 26 can stay on their parents’ coverage.
- Insurance companies can’t retroactively cancel coverage if you get sick.
- Health insurance companies can’t discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions.
- Free preventive care. Insurers are now required to provide coverage in full for recommended preventive benefits, e.g., an annual physical.
- Medicare beneficiaries who reach the “donut hole” (a gap in coverage for prescriptions) will be eligible to get brand name drugs at a 50% discount. In 2014, the discount is increased to 75%.
- Insurance companies must provide a valid reason for any premium increase, prior to it taking effect. Insurers that jack up prices without legitimate justification will be banned from participating in the new state exchanges in 2014.
- Transparency: insurance companies must report the percentage spent on items other than healthcare costs (like marketing, bureaucracy in administration, and executive compensation.)
- The law stipulates that no more than 20% can be allocated to those expenses. Anything greater than 20% and policyholders will receive rebates. This means that 80-85% of every dollar paid in premiums must go exclusively towards medical costs.
What happens in the future? More Changes in 2014