What Does Health Care Reform Mean to Children with Special Needs and Their Families?

By Minoux, Ankeny | The Exceptional Parent, August 2010 | Go to article overview

What Does Health Care Reform Mean to Children with Special Needs and Their Families?


Minoux, Ankeny, The Exceptional Parent


After the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, thousands of families across the nation breathed a sigh of relief at the White House's reassurance: "Reform will eliminate health insurance discrimination against people with disabilities." However, the actual language of the law and the proposed implementation timeline of the provisions have many parents struggling to understand the law's true benefits. The Foundation for Health Coverage Education has been asked such questions as "Which aspects of the law take effect immediately? What is changing from the current laws, and how does this impact my child and my family?" Even experts have started to wonder how these changes will impact the day to day operations of current services. What is clear right now is that a number of avenues have been provided to increase access to care for children and adults with special needs.

This article will breakdown the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and highlight the impact of the legislation on children with special needs and their families. Its contents have been extracted from research and data gathered by the Foundation for Health Coverage Education (www.CoverageForAll.org). The non-profit organization launched its unique website four years ago and has served as the first centralized destination for Americans who find themselves uninsured or have questions about their eligibility for available public programs.

How Families with Special Needs Will Benefit from Health Care Reform

For the average reader, the 4,700-plus page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and reconciliation is a fairly challenging read. To this end, the Foundation for Health Coverage Education's health coverage specialists read through the document and found seven areas of healthcare reform that will benefit children and adults with disabilities. Some of these tenets are already in place, others are occuring this year, and many will not be implemented until 2014.

7 Health Reform Benefits for Families with Special Needs:

* 1. Health plans can no longer deny coverage to children with preexisting conditions. Starting in September 2010, job-based plans and new individual policies will not be allowed to deny coverage to children under the age of 19 due to pre-existing conditions, including disabilities. In 2014, nobody will be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition or disability.

* 2. Interim high-risk pools available for the uninsured with pre-existing conditions. Available now on www.PCIP.gov, eligible individuals with pre-existing health conditions can apply for coverage though a federally or state run high-risk pool program. This program is meant to bridge the gap for the uninsured until 2014 when all discrimination against pre-existing conditions and disabilities will be prohibited.

* 3. Extension of coverage to dependent children until age 26. Parents have the choice of keeping their dependent on their plan until age 26, regardless of the dependent's marital status. Keep in mind, this right does not apply if the young adult is offered insurance at his/her place of work. Mandatorily available in September, some insurers have begun implementing this practice early, so check with your broker, insurance company, or employer to see if you qualify.

* 4. Private plan providers must offer no-cost preventive care for children and adults. Preventive care, including developmental screenings and immunizations, will be available to children in September 2010. …

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