Speaking Out! In health reform, kids have been the big winners
Child advocates are celebrating the second anniversary of the health reform law this week. So far the big winners in health reform have been kids. Certainly our favorite parts of the law have been the benefits for kids and the security for families.
Benefits for children
Most of the health reform law takes effect in 2014, but American children are benefitting now. Today in America, children cannot be denied coverage based on “pre-existing conditions,” prior health problems insurers don’t want to cover. It’s hard to overstate the importance of this provision.
There are 4 to 17 million American children with some kind of pre-existing condition, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Traditionally, parents of these children lived in fear of bankruptcy, unable to find a reasonable health plan that would allow their child to get even basic care. Some lied about their children’s conditions, hoping to at least be able to visit the doctor for checkups.
Now children simply get the care they need (pre-existing condition protection expands to adults in 2014). And that’s not all. Insurers also cannot put lifetime benefit limits on the care children receive. This helps children with rare conditions who before faced caps on how much health care they could use; again, the only option for their parents was often bankruptcy.
Finally, children and young adults may now stay on their family health plans up to age 26. The Obama administration credits this provision with adding 2.5 million to the insurance rolls since health reform’s passage.
Security for families
It’s clear that the passage of health reform two years ago this week has ushered in a more civilized age. Children can now receive care without the complications that an unchecked health insurance market imposed. Of course, what these benefits for children really mean is more security for the whole family.
About 86 million Americans are taking advantage of health reforms benefits for preventive services. This means ordinary Americans are saving on co-pays for things like immunizations and doctor visits. The result is more money in parents’ pockets and a prevention-focused approach to child health, which heads off problems before they get more serious.
Our friends at MomsRising.org have been collecting the stories of ordinary Americans who have benefitted from health reform, like the end of “pre-existing conditions” for children:
My child is adopted and was born with reflux and was later diagnosed with asthma. I cannot imagine what I would have done if his health was further compromised, because health insurance was denied due to a pre-existing condition. Thanks to our ability to secure ongoing health check-ups and keep his asthma under control, we have never experienced a full flare up nor have had to visit the emergency room. Which translates to many dollars saved!
Next week we’ll cover the Supreme Court case about the health reform law — what’s being challenged and what’s at stake for kids.
Also happening this week:
The U.S. House returns and the chair of the budget committee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), is expected to release the House Republican budget resolution. The details are not yet available, but the plan is expected to call for spending below the agreed upon level in the Budget Control Act (BCA), cancel sequestration for security programs, and propose major changes to Medicaid. The Ryan proposal is not expected to call for any new revenues or tax reform. The plan will probably not pass muster in the U.S. Senate, where senators on both sides of the aisle are publicly supportive of the spending level in the BCA.