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Guest editorial: Health care reform still needs work

Starting today, a sweeping number of provisions of Congress' health care reform act, the Affordable Care Act, begin to take effect. They are broad, consumer-friendly provisions that will help extend health care coverage to more Americans and deny efforts to take that coverage away.

Provisions in a Patient's Bill of Rights taking effect today include:

--Ban discriminating against kids with pre-existing conditions. In 2014, it will include everyone.

--Ban on insurance companies dropping coverage when you're sick and the coverage is needed most.

--Ban on insurance companies limiting coverage over a lifetime.

--Ban on insurance companies limiting choice of doctors.

--Ban on insurance companies restricting emergency room care.

--The consumer is guaranteed the right to appeal insurance company decisions.

--Young adults can be covered under a parent's plan to age 26.

--Preventive care is covered at no cost.

All these provisions will greatly benefit the consumer -- if you can get them.

The biggest downfall is that for nearly all of the provisions, you must purchase a new policy for them to take effect. Current policies, for the most part, are unaffected by the provisions. And, if you do take a new plan, premiums may be higher to cover the new provisions. The health care act includes provisions to prevent unjustified rate hikes, but such severe changes in coverage could justifiy significant premium increases.

The health care reform act is a monumental piece of legislation, but it still needs work to ensure that it does what it it is supposed to do -- provide all Americans with affordable health care.


The Bemidji Pioneer and the Echo Press are Forum Communications Company newspapers.