In a Nutshell:  How will health care reform affect our children?

By: Allison Foster, MD

On March 23rd President Obama signed into law, historic legislation that will leave an indelible mark on American history.  Over the past week, Americans have debated the pros and cons of this massive bill.  While many Americans have wondered how this affects the elderly, people on Medicare, and the self-employed uninsured to name a few, there is a large group of Americans without voting rights who will reap many benefits from this legislation…..children!  Let’s review some of the ways in which President Obama’s health care reform bill will affect our children.

  • Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing health conditions. Previously, kids with chronic conditions such as asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and sickle cell disease were being denied coverage from insurance companies.  This is effective 6 months after enactment (in 2014 it applies to everyone).
  • Insurance companies can not place lifetime coverage limits on individuals. This means that families with children requiring lengthy hospitalizations and medical care for cancers, organ and stem cell transplantation or other serious medical conditions will not be forced to sell their homes or file for bankruptcy after maxing out their private insurance plan. This is effective 6 months after enactment.
  • Children can remain on their parent’s health insurance until their 26th birthday. Currently, the states regulate when a child is kicked off of their parents health insurance plan  Generally, it is around 18 years of age.  This is effective 6 months after enactment.
  • All families will be required to have health insurance. Currently, there are 47 million uninsured Americans with roughly 7 million children without insurance.  Under the new health reform bill, families will be required to elect health insurance coverage, and based on income, will receive subsidies to help them pay for it.  Medicaid will also be expanded to include more Americans and SCHIP is now protected and fully funded.
  • Preventive care costs will be reduced or eliminated. Most trips to the pediatrician for children are for preventive health services such as physicals, well-care and immunizations.  Now, new private health plans must provide preventive health care free of co-pays and exempt from deductibles.  This is effective 6 months after enactment (in 2014 it applies to all health plans)

Dr. Allison Foster is a board-certified pediatrician with offices in the south suburbs of Chicago including Harvey, Calumet City, and Flossmoor.  She accepts all forms of insurance and is accepting new patients.  Call 708-333-3030 to schedule an appointment.