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One Year Later: The Effects of the Health Reform Law

Monday, March 28, 2011

One Year Later: The Effects of the Health Reform Law

“It is important for residents to know the provisions of the law that are available now, such as coverage for those with pre-existing conditions,” said Acting Commissioner William P. White.

(Washington, DC) — A year ago on March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the landmark Affordable Care Act into law. In just one year, the law has already given District of Columbia residents more freedom and control over their health care choices. Now, you and your family may be eligible for important new benefits that will ensure you get the care you need at a more reasonable cost.

The DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) serves as a co-chair of the mayor-created four-member Health Reform Implementation Committee, which will advise the executive office on provisions to ensure a smooth execution of the legislation in the city.

“It is important for residents to know the provisions of the law that are available now, such as coverage for those with pre-existing conditions,” said Acting Commissioner William P. White. “I encourage them to visit the District’s health reform website at www.healthreform.dc.gov to read about how the law is changing the way we receive care.”

Here are some of the benefits District of Columbia residents receive because of the new law:

New Coverage Choices

  • Most young adults can stay on their parent’s family plan until they turn 26. It does not matter whether you are married, living with your parents, in school, or financially independent.  For more information on how to stay insured, call the customer service number for your parent’s insurer and explain your situation or visit Facebook.gov/YoungAdultCoverage to learn more.
  • Most health plans cannot deny coverage to children under age 19 because of pre-existing conditions like cancer or cerebral palsy.
  • If you have been uninsured because of a pre-existing condition, you may be eligible to be insured through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. To find out about plans available in the District of Columbia, visit, https://www.pcip.gov/StatePlans.html or for general information, www.pcip.gov.

New Benefits if You Have Insurance

  • If you are in a new insurance plan, insurance companies cannot charge you a deductible or copays for recommended preventive services, like mammograms, flu shots and other immunizations. Click here to find a list of preventive services that will be covered without cost sharing.
  • Insurance companies are prohibited from capping the dollar amount of care you can receive in a lifetime, or cancelling your coverage due to a mistake on your application when you get sick.

New Benefits for People with Medicare

  • Seniors and other people with Medicare can get many preventive services and an annual wellness visit with no deductible, co-insurance or co-payment. More than 150,000 seniors and individuals nationwide with disabilities with Medicare have received annual wellness visits in the first two months of the year.
  • Seniors and others in the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the "donut hole" now receive a 50 percent discount on covered brand name prescription drugs and 7 percent off prices for generic drugs. In 2010, nearly 4 million seniors and individuals with disabilities with Medicare received a one-time $250 rebate check to help with high prescription drugs costs.

This is only the beginning of a transformation of our health care system that puts the resident in the driver's seat. For more information on how you can get these benefits, visit the US Department of Health and Human Services’ link, Better Benefits, Better Health Initiative.