The Affordable Care Act

In 2010, a new Patient’s Bill of Rights was created along with the Affordable Care Act. This bill of rights was designed to give new patient protections in dealing with insurance companies. Some of the protections started in 2010, but others will be phased in more slowly and take full effect in 2014.

Here are some of the protections covered:

  • Annual and lifetime limits to coverage are being phased out.
  • In general, children will be able to get health insurance in spite of any medical conditions.
  • Children are also now able to stay on a parent’s policy until age 26 if they meet other requirements.
  • Health insurance companies will no longer be able to rescind (take back) your health coverage after you get sick because you made an honest mistake on your insurance application.

Still, there are exceptions even to these rights. As of late 2012, many existing health plans are “grandfathered”, meaning that they don’t have to follow the new rules as long as they keep an old plan in effect. The new rules only apply to plans issued or renewed on or after September 23, 2010. And, insurance plans may ask the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for waivers (exceptions) to some of the new requirements. The DHHS has already granted a number of these exceptions, so you will still have to check with each plan to find out exactly what they do and don’t do. These new rights may not apply to all patients for some time.