New Health Care Bill of Rights Goes Into Effect

Washington, D.C. – On the six-month anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley announced the implementation Thursday of key provisions of a new Health Care Bill of Rights that will hold insurance companies accountable, expand coverage, and provide increased health care choice and security for Oregonians.  

“With the new Health Care Bill of Rights rolling out today, more Oregonians will have access to additional options and better care,” Merkley said. “No longer will children with leukemia be denied coverage if mom changes health plans.  People with terrifying diagnoses can focus on getting well, not fighting with an insurance company trying to dump them off their policies.  These new rights will bring peace of mind to millions of Oregon families and ensure quality care for more Americans.”

Several provisions of the new Health Care Bill of Rights go into effect today, including:

•    An End to Lifetime Limits on Coverage — Insurance companies will no longer be able to place lifetime limits on health insurance benefits and force patients who are diagnosed with diseases such as cancer to deal with the exorbitant costs on their own.

•    Annual Limits on Coverage Will Begin to Be Phased Out — Annual limits on insurance benefits will begin to be phased out.  Starting September 23rd, insurance companies can make the annual limit no less than $750,000.  The minimum annual limit will rise to $1.25 million in 2011, and then to $2 million in 2012.  Starting on January 1st, 2014, annual limits will be prohibited in most health care plans.

•    Expanded Coverage for Young Adults — Young adults will be able to remain on their parent’s insurance plans until age 26.

•    Free Preventive Care on New Plans — Insurance companies will now be required to cover preventive services and immunizations, helping Oregonians lead healthier lives. All new insurance plans must cover critical preventive screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies, without charging a deductible, co-pay or co-insurance.

•    Coverage for Children with Pre-existing Conditions — Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage to children who have been unfortunate enough to have been sick or injured.

•    Coverage for Other Individuals with Pre-existing Conditions — Individuals with pre-existing conditions will be able to buy into a high-risk catastrophic insurance plan this year.

•    An End to Dropped Coverage When Consumers Get Sick – In the past, insurance companies could go back and search for an error on a customer’s application and use this error to deny payment for services after he or she got sick. The new law makes this illegal.

“These new rights end several tactics that insurance companies have used to deny care to policy holders,” Merkley said.  “They mark a significant stride toward quality, affordable health care for all Americans.”

Additional information, including statistics and details about health care reform’s benefits for Oregon families, can be found here: