New federal health care reform provisions take effect tomorrow

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force marks the sixth-month anniversary of the passage of health care reform and the implementation of several key features to increase health insurance and care. While many parts of the Affordable Care Act will go into effect over the next few years, early steps to increase coverage and access to services begin Thursday, Sept. 23.

Six critical pieces of health care reform go into effect tomorrow. For clients in new plans there will no longer be lifetime caps on the cost of services, there will be new ways to appeal insurance decisions, and insurance companies and issuers must offer preventive care. In addition, all group and individual insurance plans can no longer have annual caps on services, young people can stay on the insurance plans of their parents or guardians through age 25, and children can no longer be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey says:

Passage of federal health care reform marked a critical step toward ensuring access to health care for roughly 32 million people who are currently uninsured, and toward ending some of the health insurance industry’s most egregious abuses. People of color and economically impoverished people are disproportionately affected by such health disparities. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and our families are among those affected by this broken and imbalanced health care system. This week, several key provisions of health care reform go into effect, which will in turn have a positive effect on people’s lives across the country.

Access to health care and services is vital to LGBT people and our families, and allows our community to live healthy and active lives. We have long known that LGBT people suffer from significantly higher rates of health disparities caused and exasperated by a lack of access to quality health insurance. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act is an important step toward alleviating this problem. In particular, many of the reforms taking effect tomorrow such as a removal of exclusions based on pre-existing conditions for children, to be followed in the next few weeks by a removal of pre-existing conditions for all, and the ability for young people to stay on the insurance of their parents or guardians, will have a beneficial impact for our community.

We look forward to the implementation of the rest of health care reform and urge the Obama administration and Department of Health & Human Services to reflect the needs of the LGBT community throughout this process, especially regarding data collection, outreach efforts and public education.