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Health Care Reform Explained

Health Care Reform Benefits: What 2011 Will Bring

Your questions answered

Employer coverage or individual plans

People with employer-sponsored health coverage or individually purchased plans that renewed or started Jan. 1 are seeing these changes, which apply to all policies:

  • Young adults can remain on or return to their family health coverage until their 26th birthday. (This does not apply to employer-sponsored retiree-only plans, however.) Watch for a written notice from your insurance plan or employer that describes at least a 30-day period when you can add your children to your policy.
  • If you become sick, plans can no longer cancel your coverage because you have made an unintentional mistake on your application for insurance.
  • Plans cannot set lifetime dollar limits on coverage. If your insurance was canceled because you reached your plan's limit, you will be able to rejoin the plan.

Exemptions and exceptions

Several different types of plans are not required to include all provisions of the health care law:

  • Some new consumer protections and benefits are not required under grandfathered plans — those that were already in existence when health care reform became law. You will receive a notice from your insurer if your plan is grandfathered.
  • Grandfathered plans can lose their exemption if they significantly reduce benefits or raise members' costs.

Preexisting conditions

If you have been unable to buy insurance for the past six months because of a preexisting condition, next year three new, less-expensive options will replace the Preexisting Conditions Insurance Plan the federal government runs in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

Find out more

To find out what changes health care reform will bring in the future, check out the Kaiser Family Foundation's interactive time line covering deadlines in 13 subject areas — from making health care more affordable to increasing long-term care options for older Americans.

Susan Jaffe of Washington, D.C., covers health and aging issues and writes the Bulletin’s weekly column, Health Care Reform Explained: Your Questions Answered.

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