Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Obama's Health Insurance Consumer Protections

Speaking at a town hall in Raleigh last week, Obama outlined his core "health insurance consumer protections" that he considers essential to effective health reform. Here is the list:

No Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.

No Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.

No Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.

No Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.

No Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.

No Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.

Extended Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.

Guaranteed Insurance Renewal: 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.

These principles target the unfair practices that insurance companies use to maximize profits- in general, avoiding sick people and skimping on benefits. As the Republican party works to galvanize opposition with warnings of dire consequences for the average citizen, let's hope the nation hears these Consumer Protections and recognizes the spirit of public good underlying Obama's plan.
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