By Jay Heflin - 05/08/10 10:00 AM EDT
President Barack Obama in his Saturday address said that on Monday the White House will announce a new rule that allows young adults without insurance to stay on their parents’ plan until they’re 26 years old.
“Even though insurance companies have until September to comply with this rule, we’ve asked them to do so immediately to avoid coverage gaps for new college graduates and other young adults,” Obama said. “This also makes good business sense for insurance companies, and we’re pleased that most have agreed. Now we need employers to do the same, and we’re willing to work with them to make this transition possible.”
“[T]he new healthcare law has also begun to end the worst practices of insurance companies,” he said. “For too long, we have been held hostage to an insurance industry that jacks up premiums and drops coverage as they please. But those days are finally coming to an end.”
He noted the recent crackdown on Anthem Blue Cross for hiking rates by 39 percent for California policyholders and said that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has put the remaining states on notice to investigate any insurance company that appears to be gaming the system with extraordinary rate hikes.
“To help states achieve this goal, we’ve set up a new Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, and will provide grants to states with the best oversight programs,” he said.
The White House also recently blasted an insurance company for dropping patients with expensive illnesses before the practice is prohibited in September.
“[W]hen we found out that an insurance company was systematically dropping the coverage of women diagnosed with breast cancer, my administration called on them to end this practice immediately,” Obama said. “Two weeks ago, the entire insurance industry announced that it would comply with the new law early and stop the perverse practice of dropping people’s coverage when they get sick.”
The White House will also unveil a patients’ bill of rights next month arming consumers with tangible rights by which insurance and healthcare industries must abide.
“It will set up an appeals process to enforce those rights,” he said. “And it will prohibit insurance companies from limiting a patient's access to their preferred primary care provider, ob-gyn, or emergency room care.”
The president mentioned health-related tax breaks for small businesses and individuals worth “potentially worth tens of thousands of dollars” in the address as well.
Four million small businesses have been notified that they could be eligible for these healthcare tax cuts this year. And retirees will soon receive help if they fall into the prescription drug “donut hole.”
“[A] little over a month from now, on June 15th, senior citizens who fall into the prescription drug coverage gap known as the ‘donut hole’ will start receiving a $250 rebate to help them afford their medication,” Obama said.
The president signed the healthcare reform bill into law a little over a month ago.