Get up to speed on Sept. 23 insurance changes

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Start with this primer from the AP’s Carla K. Johnson, an AHCJ board member. The big lesson is that you’ll see some changes, but only if your insurer has changed your plan significantly since the reform law went into effect on March 23, 2010. And, as we’ve established, insurers are very cognizant of these dates and are managing plans accordingly.

Johnson’s article (and others like it) emphasize the big-picture, top-level implementation issues, but things start getting more interesting when the rubber hits the road and each state sets up a slightly different system. For more on how each state is a unique reform lab, see Lynn Blewett and Sharon Long’s piece in the Health Affairs Blog.

From there, the gaps are filled by a slew of specialized articles detailing how reform will impact different sectors of the population. Some issues to look for:

A number of major insurers appear to be playing a high-stakes game of chicken with regulators over children’s health coverage. As N.C. Aizenman reports in The Washington Post, insurers like Anthem, Humana, WellPoint, Cigna and Aetna have decided to “stop offering new child-only plans, rather than comply with rules in the new health-care law that will require such plans to start accepting children with preexisting medical conditions after Sept. 23.”

The insurers cite “uncertainty” in the market, a concept which Julie Rovner ably explains in the NPR health blog. The issue, industry representatives say, is that the law would effectively allow children to sign up for insurance after they get sick, which may not be conducive to a sustainable business model for the companies. It is, after all, the very dilemma that led to the universal mandate vs. no denial for pre-existing conditions tradeoff which forms a key pillar of health care reform legislation.

More about children’s coverage

Q&A: Extending children’s health coverage, Chicago Tribune
Health reform: Will your kids be covered? Reuters Finance
New Health Law’s Protections For Adult Children Start Tomorrow
, Kaiser Health News & USA Today

College kids
5 Ways Health Reform Affects College Students, U.S. News & World Report

Small businesses
Lightening the Health Care Load for Small Businesses, The New York Times

The long-term ill
Insurance Companies To Remove Benefit Caps, WBUR

The overweight and others in need of preventive care
Few Insurers Provide Coverage For Weight Loss Treatment, Kaiser Health News

And, of course, politicians
A Tale of Two Campaigns: Repeal vs. Reinforce, California HealthLine

Tool for tracking implementation

The Kaiser Family Foundation has added “Health Reform Source” to its stable. The site is dedicated to helping readers understand laws and regulations behind health reform, and to tracking their implementation, both locally and nationally. The site’s heavy on graphics, video and nifty interactive bits.

For those just looking for a feed full of reform implementation news to add to their Google Reader, I recommend The Scan (RSS) which, though Kaiser heavy, includes reports from all over.

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