We don’t have to wait any longer (drum roll, please)…Major elements of national health care reform begin today!
Six months have gone by since the bill became law, and today a set of important protections takes effect that are designed to curb the worst excesses of the insurance industry. That means one simple thing: health insurance will start working better for children and families now.
Let’s start with two of the most touted benefits of health care reform for kids.
First, it bars the unethical practice of health insurance companies denying kids coverage because they are sick. Imagine the peace of mind a family enjoys knowing a sick kid won’t be denied health care when it’s needed most.
Recently, several insurers have stated that they will no longer sell policies for children, effectively circumventing the new provision. The Children's Alliance, as well as many of our national partners, are calling on insurance industry leaders and the Obama Administration to take action to prevent insurance companies from unfairly limiting access to private coverage for children.
Second, new insurance plans will have to begin providing preventive care without copayments or coinsurance. That means that insurance starts becoming more about staying healthy and less about fixing medical problems.
Next, let's celebrate the long-term benefits of health care reform, which include driving down the number of uninsured parents and caregivers. This milestone comes at a time when troubling data from the Census Bureau was released. The data provides a clear reminder that important changes couldn’t have waited any longer.
Let’s look at a few ways that the law addresses some of the grim news.
We know that children benefit when their parents and caregivers are healthy and can get the care they need. The Census data tells us that the number of uninsured people in the United States jumped by 4.3 million, to a total of 50.7 million in 2009. When state and local data is released next week, Washington state is expected to follow that trend. But because of health care reform, 811,000 Washingtonians who are uninsured and 359,000 who purchase health insurance through the individual market will have affordable coverage options, making families healthier.
Not only that, but we also learned that the number of people on public plans has increased. To ensure that people on these plans have quality health care, the law improves reimbursement rates to providers, which will provide a strong incentive for doctors and other providers to accept public plans like Apple Health for Kids – thus connecting more kids to coverage. Census data also tells us that children in poverty are much more likely to be uninsured than other kids.
While the realization of these reform provisions is an important step to strengthening our health care system, we must continue to work to protect Apple Health for Kids. As we as a state continue to work through these economic times, it is vital that our state leaders and for all Washingtonians continue to honor the vision inherent in Apple Health for Kids: that all children in our state have access to comprehensive, affordable health coverage that allows them to get the care they need to thrive.