New health insurance rules kick in this week

    The new suite of health insurance mandates that passed this year will take years to implement, but several rules take effect this week.

    This week marks the six month anniversary of the passage of the new federal health insurance law that will eventually require all citizens to have coverage. But the law has many components – some of which kick in soon.

    Recent college grads can attest: finding a job can be hard. Finding one that offers health benefits, harder. The new health insurance law says that, at the next benefits renewal date, employers must extend family benefits to employees’ children, up to age 26. Whether or not they are employed, in school or even dependent. The only exception: If the child has a job that comes with health insurance.

    That’s just one of the eight provisions coming online this week. Health care activists celebrated them at a forum with Joann Grossi, the regional leader for the federal Health and Human Services Department.

    Grossi: I myself have friends who’ve had breast cancer, who currently have breast cancer, who’ve been dropped from their insurance. That doesn’t get to happen anymore because of this law.

    That’s because insurance companies can no longer rescind benefits after a person has started tapping into them. Nor can insurers impose lifetime limits on how much health care a person uses. And children under age 19 cannot be turned away because of previous illnesses.

    Kathleen Stohl, the deputy executive director of Families USA, advocated for the new rules.

    Stohl: There’s a lot more to come in 2014, but the concrete benefits of health reform are here right now … that will literally help millions of people with health insurance and provide many many more Americans with a source of coverage that they haven’t had before.

    An executive at United HealthCare, one of the nation’s largest insurers, said the company is prepared for the provisions to kick in this week, and it supports them. The law’s broadest measure – requiring everyone to have coverage – does not kick in until 2014.

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