CU offers guide to health reform options & benefits


March 22, 2011

As Health Reform Marks First Anniversary, Consumers Union Offers Free Guide to New Options and Benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the nation’s health reform law approaches its first anniversary on March 23, Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, is distributing a free guide with important information about the law and how it affects you and your family.
The new guide is available online at http://www.consumerreports.org/health/resources/pdf/ncqa/health-reform.pdf
Jim Guest, president of Consumers Union, said, “Health reform offers a lot of new options, but sorting through all of the information out there can be a real challenge. This guide boils the information down to help you understand the changes in health care and what they mean to you personally.”
The guide offers easy-to-read information about the new health care options – and the fine print – for consumers:
• If you have health insurance, the guide explains new rights available to you, such as annual exams and cancer screenings with no out-of-pocket costs.
• The guide offers details about how children under 26 can stay on their parents’ health insurance plan.
• For those who have been denied health coverage due to pre-existing conditions, the guide offers information about the new Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) and other resources to help get coverage.
• People with tax-free health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts can learn about changes that affect how they may pay for medicine, deductibles, and other expenses.
• The guide outlines changes in Medicare, such as the availability of no-cost preventive services and drug discounts.
• Small business owners can get information about tax credits to assist them in offering coverage to employees.
• The guide covers new requirements for health insurers, such as public reporting of how much insurers spend on health care costs and administrative costs, including salaries and advertising.
The guide spotlights several Americans with specific health issues addressed by the law, such as a California family that faced a lifetime limit on their health insurance policy for treatment of the daughter’s spinal muscular atrophy. Under the law insurers can no longer impose a lifetime limit on benefits.