Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today highlighted consumer protections included in the health care reform law that go into effect tomorrow to put consumers in control of their care and end insurance industry abuses. The reforms, part of a provision in the law called the New Patient’s Bill of Rights, will help improve care, protect choice and lower cost for South Dakota families.
“Six months ago, President Obama and Congress acted to make health care more obtainable and affordable. South Dakotans have already seen the immediate benefits of the law, and enhanced protections are now going into effect that eliminate the worst practices of the insurance industry that took advantage of families for far too long. I know these reforms will have a real impact in the lives of South Dakotans,” said Johnson.
Rights included in the New Patient’s Bill of Rights that go into effect tomorrow include:
Ban on Discriminating Against Kids with Pre-Existing Conditions:
Before reform, tens of the thousands of families had been denied insurance each year for their children because of an illness or condition. Starting September 23rd, plans cannot discriminate against kids with pre-existing conditions.
Ban on Insurance Companies Dropping Coverage:
Before reform, insurance companies could cancel your coverage when you got sick and needed it most because of a simple mistake on your application. Starting September 23rd, insurance companies are banned from cutting off your coverage due to an unintentional mistake on your application.
Ban on Insurance Companies Limiting Coverage:
Before reform, cancer patients and individuals suffering from other serious and chronic diseases were often forced to limit or go without treatment because of an insurer’s lifetime limit on their coverage. Starting September 23rd, insurance companies can no longer put a lifetime limit on the amount of coverage they provide, so families can live with the security of knowing that their coverage will be there when they need it most.
Ban on Insurance Companies Limiting Choice of Doctors:
Before reform, insurance companies could decide which doctor you could go to. Starting September 23rd, if you purchase or join a new plan you have the right to choose your own doctor in your insurer network.
Ban on Insurance Companies Restricting Emergency Room Care:
Before reform, insurance companies could limit which emergency room you could go to or charge you more if you went out of network. Starting September 23rd, if you purchase or join a new plan, those plans are banned from charging more for emergency services obtained out of network.
Guarantee You a Right to Appeal:
Before reform, when insurers denied you coverage or restricted your treatment, you were left with few options to appeal. Starting September 23rd, if you purchase or join a new policy, you will be guaranteed the right to appeal insurance company decisions to an independent third party.
Covering Young Adults on Parent’s Plan:
Starting September 23rd, young adults will be allowed to remain on their parent’s plan until their 26th birthday, unless they are offered coverage at work.
Covering Preventive Care With No Cost:
Starting September 23rd, if you join or purchase a new plan, you will receive recommended preventive care with no out-of-pocket cost. Services like mammograms, colonoscopies, immunizations, pre-natal and new baby care will be covered and insurance companies will be prohibited from charging deductibles, co-payments or co-insurance.
South Dakotans can visit www.HealthCare.gov, a one-stop website for consumers to get information on all coverage options and new patient protections under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The website provides extensive information on navigating the health insurance market and clear timelines about when different parts of the legislation will be implemented.
Johnson has also created a special section on his website at www.Johnson.Senate.gov with additional information on the law to help South Dakotans understand the benefits of health care reform.