Today marks one year since the Affordable Care Act’s Patient’s Bill of Rights went into effect. The White House unveiled the regulations in 2010 to expand coverage and better control costs for patients before the full health care reform law goes into effect in 2014. And so far, people are seeing a difference, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Patient’s Bill of Rights prevented insurance companies from denying coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions (this protection goes into effect for adults in 2014), and it allowed young adults to stay on their parent’s insurance plans until age 26 — allowing 1 million young adults to have health insurance in the last year. And the report highlights how regulations in the Patient’s Bill of Rights have allowed states to have more authority over health care costs in its state, using these examples:
-Connecticut’s Insurance Department rejected a proposed 20 percent rate hike by one of the State’s major insurers.
-In August 2010, a major insurer in Massachusetts agreed to a significant reduction of proposed increases – less than 13 percent instead of the nearly 23 percent they initially requested.
-In 2010, Oregon disapproved health insurance premium requests of 10 percent, 18 percent, and 20 percent in the individual market.
-Rhode Island’s Insurance Commissioner used his rate review authority to reduce a proposed rate increase by a major insurer in that State from 7.9 percent to 1.9 percent.
-Nearly 30,000 North Dakotans saw a proposed increase of 23.7 percent cut to 14 percent following a public outcry.
-In 2010, Californians were saved from rate increases totaling as high as 87 percent after a California insurer withdrew its proposed increase after scrutiny by the State Insurance Commissioner.
The report also outlines the stories of people who were helped by the Patient’s Bill of Rights, like Kylie Lodgson who was able to stay on her father’s insurance and receive a heart transplant. Providing the new regulations has helped families and individuals get insurance and keep their coverage, all while holding the insurance companies accountable. “By cracking down on insurance industry abuses and making sure we are spending taxpayer dollars wisely in our health care programs, we are ushering in a new day for American consumers,” writes Richard Sorian in an HHS blog post about the one-year anniversary of the regulations.