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Q. Does the new health care reform law eliminate annual and lifetime limits on health care coverage in insurance policies?
Yes. On Sept. 23, lifetime limits are effectively banned for all plans that begin or are renewed after that date. Insurance companies can no longer cut off policy holders when their medical expenses reach a lifetime limit. Annual limits on coverage will be phased out over the next few years, beginning this year.
Currently, more than 100 million Americans have insurance that stops when medical claims exceed their policy’s lifetime limit. The new rule especially will help people with serious diseases that require expensive treatment. Ten percent of cancer patients surveyed recently said they hit their lifetime limit and their insurers would not pay for further medical care. Federal health officials mention the example of an Indiana teenager battling leukemia who reached the $1 million lifetime limit on his family’s policy in a couple of months. To pay for his bone marrow transplant, his desperate parents appealed to the public for donations and raised more than $500,000.