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Health Care Reform Changes Begin

Amid continued public confusion over what's in it, some provisions of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul take effect today, including an end to lifetime caps on medical costs.

The overhaul allows parents to keep their adult children on their health plans until age 26. And insurers can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Also, some preventive care will no longer require copayments.

Consumers whose insurance plan year begins Jan. 1 will have to wait until then for these changes.

Meanwhile, a new Associated Press poll finds more than a third of the people who were surveyed think incorrectly that it contains panels of bureaucrats to make decisions about people's care.

Two-thirds think congressional budget analysts said it would increase the government's debt. In fact, the analysts say the opposite.

Meantime, the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation has outlined some of the changes.

"Michigan consumers need to be aware that important health insurance reforms that could benefit their entire family will be in place beginning tomorrow," Commissioner Ken Ross said in a statement.

September 23, 2010 Health Insurance Reforms:

Extending Dependant Coverage:
Insurers and employers providing dependent coverage to children are required make that coverage available at their next open enrollment period to adult children up to age 26. The extension applies to both married and unmarried children.

Banning Children Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions:
Insurers will be prohibited from denying coverage for children under the age of 19. Insurance companies will also be prohibited from excluding coverage for the pre-existing conditions of children.

Providing No-Cost Preventive Care:
New plans must, upon renewal, eliminate any cost-sharing for preventive services covered under the contract. Insurance companies cannot charge you a deductible, co-pay, or coinsurance for preventive care measures such as immunizations.

Banning Policy Rescissions:
Insurers will be prohibited from rescinding or retroactively canceling your health insurance coverage unless you committed fraud or made an intentional misrepresentation of an important fact on your application.

Eliminating Lifetime Limits:
For new plans, insurers will be prohibited from setting lifetime limits on significant benefits, such as hospitalization and emergency services.

Consumers are encouraged to contact their insurer or employer for additional information on how these reforms affect their current policies, according to Ross.

Residents who have questions or complaints regarding an insurance company, agency, agent or product that can call OFIR toll-free at 877-999-6442 or click here for more information.

© MMX WWJ Radio, All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to his report.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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