On March 23rd the POTUS signed The Patient Protection and Affordability Act of 2010, often referred to as the health reform law. What does this law mean if you have a premature baby?
- As of September 23rd, 2010 your child can no longer be excluded from an insurance plan because of a pre-existing condition.
- It means the predatory practice of charging impossible prices for children with pre-existing conditions will stop (although I am not too sure how they will police that one).
- It means you can keep your child on your family insurance plan until he/she is 26.
- There will be no co-pay for well-child (preventative care visits) and vaccinations.
- The elimination of lifetime maximums. The average cost of care in the first year of life for a preemie is $50k, but many babies end up with $250,000 or even higher NICU bills. You can eat through a $1 million deductible far quicker than you think.
- It means you have a better chance of getting a group plan (a far better option rate wise than purchasing an individual policy) as people can band together and form co-ops for buying insurance. The more people in a group looking to buy health insurance the lower the rates.
- Medicaid and CHIP (government plans) are supposed to have less restrictive financial eligibility requirements.
- Subsidies will be available for those with more limited incomes to help purchase insurance.
The plan is not perfect, but in a nutshell it means a premature baby is more likely to have health insurance and therefore coverage for PT, OT, speech therapy, eye doctor, various and sundry specialists, ER visits, surgeries…never mind well-baby checks and vaccinations.
Think of the perfect health care situation as a ladder with 100 steps. With the signing of this bill into we are now on the 5th rung. It’s somewhere to start.
Remember, more than 12% of babies in the US are premature so parents of preemies are the second largest minority. That’s a lot of votes.
You shouldn’t have to worry about health insurance when your baby is premature. It is already unfair enough.