Health Insurance Changes Take Effect This Week

Monday, September 20th 2010, 8:41 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, OKLAHOMA -- Starting this week you could see significant changes to your health insurance coverage. 

This is due to health care reform approved by Congress and signed by the President earlier this year. 

The changes will impact thousands of people including companies and how they pay for benefits and what you ultimately pay for health insurance. 

Effective this week, insurance companies cannot put a dollar limit on benefits such as hospital or lab services and coverage for dependents is going up to 26 years of age. 

Also you'll get preventative care without a deductable or co-pay. 

While this may sound like great news on one front, we could see another battle soon. 

That's because it's going to cost money, and somebody is going to have to pay for these new benefits. 

One insurance representative said this will ultimately impact the total cost of what we pay for health care coverage.

"Of course all of those new benefits have additional costs that will be reflected in the cost of coverage," said Robert Zirkelback, America's Health Insurance Plans. 

But who's going to pay for it?  That's the question that's being bounced back and forth between health insurance companies and the White House. 

On one side you have representatives with the health insurance industry saying all of these changes will be reflected the cost of coverage. 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois have already sent customers letters about premium hikes going up 13 percent.  That's just one example. 

So now the White House is telling insurance companies you better justify the rate increases with real data and not blame the rate increases solely on health care reform.  The question now becomes will insurance companies have a right to make their own analyses and claims to their customers? 

"Well, absolutely they have a right to communicate with their customers. We just want to make sure that communication is as accurate as possible," said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health & Human Services.

The Obama administration says the impact on insurance premiums will be minimal.