In 2009, over 200 million Americans are covered by health insurance plans provided by private insurers.
Called Health Insurance Consumer Protections by the White House, Such reforms are urgently needed to combat egregious practices commonly used by insurers to exclude people from health coverage, and to avoid paying for health care services used by people who have paid their premiums.
In summary, President Obama's health insurance plan reform agenda includes the following:
- No Pre-Existing Conditions to Exclude Coverage
Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history. Per President Obama: "We will stop insurance companies from denying you coverage because of your medical history.
"I've told this story before -- I will never forget watching my own mother, as she fought cancer in her final days, worrying about whether her insurer would claim her illness was a preexisting condition so they could wiggle out of paying for her coverage.
How many of you have worried about the same thing? A lot of people have gone through this. Many of you have been denied insurance or heard of someone who was denied insurance because they got -- had a preexisting condition. That will no longer be allowed with reform. We won't allow that."
- Will Cap Out-of-Pocket Expenses Annually
Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses. Per President Obama: "With reform, insurance companies will have to abide by a yearly cap on how much you can be charged for your out-of-pocket expenses. No one in America should go broke because of an illness."
- No Lifetime Caps for Health Care Coverage
Per President Obama: "We will stop insurance companies from placing arbitrary caps on the coverage you can receive in a given year or in a lifetime."
Per President Obama: "No longer will insurance companies be allowed to drop or water down coverage for someone who's become seriously ill. That's not right, it's not fair."
Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.
President Obama: "We will require insurance companies to cover routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies, eye and foot exams for diabetics, so we can avoid chronic illnesses that cost not only lives, but money."
Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.
Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.
President Obama summarized at a healthcare townhall in North Carolina, "... if you're one of the 46 [million] Americans who don't have coverage today, or you've got that coverage where you got a $10,000 deductible,... then you'll finally be able to get quality, affordable coverage.
But what a lot of chatter out there hasn't focused on is the fact that if you've got health insurance, then the reform we're proposing will also help you because it will provide you more stability and more security.
Because the truth is we have a system today that works well for the insurance industry, but it doesn't always work well for you. So what we need, and what we will have when we pass these reforms, are health insurance consumer protections to make sure that those who have insurance are treated fairly and insurance companies are held accountable.