We’re Doing More to Protect Your Health
By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
This week is National Consumer Protection Week, an excellent time for you to learn more about your new health insurance rights and the resources offered by the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act.
Thanks to the law, you have new options for health insurance coverage and are protected from some of the worst insurance company practices. Now, children can no longer be excluded from coverage because of a pre-existing health problem, most young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance policies until age 26, and people with pre-existing conditions can seek coverage from the new Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. And in 2014, new Affordable Insurance Exchanges will provide all Americans with access to affordable, high-quality coverage.
The Affordable Care Act makes sure that your insurance works for you when you need it most: when you’re sick or injured. Insurance companies can no longer put a lifetime dollar cap on health benefits or revoke your coverage when you’re sick just because you made an honest mistake on your insurance application. If your insurer denies your claim for benefits, there is a new right to appeal, and if a claim is denied again, the right to an outside, independent review.
The law also ensures that you get value for your dollar. Now, insurance companies generally must spend at least 80 percent or more of your premium on health benefits and quality improvements, instead of for non-health expenses, such as overhead and advertising. Starting this year, insurance companies that don’t meet the 80 percent standard will provide rebates to consumers. And, insurers that propose to hike premiums by 10 percent or more may now be required to publicly justify these increases.
We’re working hard to fully implement all of the consumer protections and coverage options in the Affordable Care Act. Search www.HealthCare.gov to learn more about your protections, investigate local health insurance options on the website’s Plan Finder, and explore a wealth of other consumer tools and resources.