National News

New benefits from health care law kick in

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

New benefits from President Barack Obama's controversial health care law kick in on Wednesday, while Republicans are still vowing to change the law if they can.

The women's preventative health care amendment officially goes into effect. It includes eight preventive health benefits: access to free contraceptives, breast-feeding supplies, screenings for sexually transmitted infections, counseling for domestic violence and routine check-ups for breast and pelvic exams, Pap tests and prenatal care.

The demand for affordable women's health care is registered in the Northridge office of Dr. Jirair Konalian.

"I have seen patients who have postponed their medical care for financial reasons for years sometimes," Konalian said.

All new health insurance plans must provide the benefits for free, and existing customers will receive the benefits at the start of their plan's next renewal date. Patients used to have to pay out of pocket for all of these, either with a co-pay or deductible.

"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, a new day for women's health has finally arrived," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 47 million women have health plans that must offer the new benefits, but just a tiny fraction will be able to do so starting Wednesday because of complicated grandfather clauses for many large employer insurance plans.

Earlier this year, the birth control provision sparked major controversy. Religious organizations protested that they shouldn't have to comply. After weeks of backlash, the White House amended the rule to provide exemptions for religious institutions, but not private companies.

Also a part of the Affordable Care Act, nearly two million Californians will receive rebates from their health insurers by Wednesday. It is a result of California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones' move that mandated health insurers spend at least 80 percent of the money they collect from customers' premiums on actual health care as opposed to company profits, marketing or overhead.

Here is the rebate breakdown by health insurers regulated by the California Department of Insurance:

  • Blue Shield of California Life & Health Insurance Company: $10.8 million rebate to policyholders in the individual market; approximately 239,595 subscribers impacted; $45.15 average rebate per subscriber
  • Kaiser Permanente Insurance Company: $277,034 rebate to policyholders in the individual market; approximately 21,823 subscribers impacted; $12.69 average rebate per subscriber
  • Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CIGNA):$3.4 million rebate to employers in the large group market; approximately 89,575 subscribers impacted; $37.70 average rebate per subscriber
  • Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company: $1.3 million rebate to policyholders in the individual market; approximately 407,429 subscribers impacted; $3.16 average rebate per subscriber
  • Aetna Life Insurance Company: $3.4 million rebate to employers in the large group market; approximately 84,428 subscribers impacted; $40.50 average rebate per subscriber
  • PacifiCare Life and Health Insurance Company: $789,615 rebate to employers in the large group market; approximately 63,600 subscribers impacted; $12.42 average rebate per subscriber.

Starting in 2014, it will be illegal for companies to deny someone coverage because they're a breast cancer survivor, pregnant or a victim of domestic violence. In the meantime, opponents are still trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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president barack obama, health care, health insurance, national news
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