Honestly, health reform feels so last year. The effort to pass reform was epic, with so many near-death and nail-bitter moments, my political junky self was so ready to move on. A year ago, the town hall protests about health reform were all I could think about but today, I’m thinking more about the economic crisis it seems we can’t seem to shake.
But as the six-month anniversary of passage of the health reform bill approaches next week (remember, the bill didn’t actually pass until March 2010!), I’m reminded that health reform isn’t just an idea anymore, it’s happening. And the consumer protections that are now taking effect are helping families keep their heads above water as they struggle financially.
Last weekend, my family visited our close friends Peter and Greta and their newborn Thomas. Due to a sudden and unexpected complication, Thomas was born10 weeks early and just came home from the hospital after a two-month stay. Thankfully, although Peter and Greta both have had their work hours cuts over the last two years, they had health insurance that will cover the vast majority of the costs for Thomas birth and post-natal care.
While they are overjoyed to have Thomas home, Peter and Gretchen have been really worried about what comes next. Thomas has many complications common among premature babies and they’ve come to a scary conclusion. Thomas’ follow-up surgery and visits with specialists might mean he hits his lifetime coverage limit before his first birthday.
“Hey wait, that’s not going to be legal anymore!” I yelled as if playing charades. I had just reviewed the www.healthcare.gov website and learned that lifetime limits for essential benefits would be prohibited as of late September. Greta and Peter were relieved – but dubious. I gave them the website address so they could see for themselves and contact their insurance company about their specific policy.
And that's not all. Millions of families will be celebrating this month as additional protections take effect such as a prohibition against insurance companies dropping people from coverage when they are sick or denying health coverage for children when they are sick.
Yes, passing health reform was epic – but so are the changes it's bringing about for people like you and me.
Have you or someone in your family experienced the new health insurance protections? Your story is important! Share it here: MomsRising stories map