Bringing Relief to Americans

When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in March he ushered in a new day for every American family that has seen its wages and dreams eroded by a health care system that worked for the insurance companies’ bottom line — and at the expense of regular people.

To me, reforming America’s health care system has always been about re-empowering America’s workers and putting consumers back in charge of their health coverage and care.

Today, I joined with my colleagues at HHS and Treasury in announcing new regulations to do just that by stopping insurance companies from limiting the care you need and removing the bureaucratic barriers between you and your doctor.

Beginning this fall -- just six months after the Affordable Care Act was enacted -- new regulations will put an end to some of the most egregious practices. These rules:

  • Put an end to pre-existing condition exclusions for children under age 19 for all group health plans and new individual market policies;
  • Stop insurers from arbitrarily rescinding coverage except in cases involving fraud or an intentional misrepresentation of material facts for all plans;
  • Prohibit the use of lifetime limits in all policies issued or renewed after September 23, 2010;
  • Phase out the use of annual dollar limits over the next three years for most plans;
  • Allow consumers to designate any available participating primary care provider as their primary care provider for all new plans;
  • End the practice of charging higher out-of-pocket costs for  services that are obtained out of a plan’s network emergency for all new plans.

Together, this new Patient’s Bill of Rights, will bring immediate relief to many Americans and provide peace of mind to millions more who are only one illness or accident away from medical and financial chaos.

For too long, many small business owners and self-employed entrepreneurs have been priced out of adequate health care coverage. The provisions announced today provide these engines of economic growth with more choices in care, greater value for the money, and the confidence that comes with both.

Hilda Solis is the Secretary of Labor

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