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A New Era in American Health Care

In a new blog post, Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis writes that the historic action by the House of Representatives in passing comprehensive health reform legislation will usher in a new era in American health care—one in which all Americans will be able get the care they need without incurring financial hardship, and no American will be denied health insurance coverage simply because they have a preexisting medical condition.

Many Americans will feel the effect of the reform this year, as significant changes start to go into effect. Within the year:

  • underwriting of children in the individual market will be prohibited;
  • young adults will be able to stay on their parents' health plans to age 26;
  • insurance companies will be prohibited from revoking coverage when people become ill, and from setting lifetime limits on benefits;
  • small businesses will be eligible for new tax credits to offset their premium costs;
  • people with preexisting conditions will be eligible for subsidized coverage through a national high-risk pool;
  • new limits will be set for the percentage of premiums that insurers can spend on non-medical costs and, beginning in 2011, carriers that exceed those limits will be required to offer rebates to enrollees;
  • Medicare will provide $250 rebates to beneficiaries who reach the doughnut hole; and
  • Medicare will eliminate cost-sharing for preventive services in Medicare and private plans.

"The U.S. will now join all other major industrialized countries with a system for ensuring access to essential health care, and we will lay the foundation for a high performance health system that yields access to care for all, improved quality, and greater efficiency," writes Davis. "It is a victory for all Americans, who deserve the finest health system in the world."

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