Friday, August 19, 2011

Individual Mandate Ruled Unconstitutional

On June 6th, 2011 a federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled that the Individual Mandate (the portion of the reform law that states all individuals must have health insurance) was constitutional.  This was the first appellate court to rule on the issue.  Well, on August 12, 2011 a second federal appeals court in Atlanta has ruled the Individual Mandate as unconstitutional.  When ruling, they stated that this provision, although unconstitutional, is "severable" from the rest of the legislation.  This means that the Individual Mandate would be eliminated but the rest of the law would remain. 

Since there are now two federal courts that have ruled on the issue and have split their decision, it makes it much more likely that this issue will be in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as early as the fall with a decision in 2012.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Contraception Now Covered At No Cost Under Health Reform (PPACA)

On August 1, 2011 the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued new policy that will require health plans to include women's preventive services such as well-woman visits, breastfeeding support and services and FDA-Approved contraception.

Under the Health Reform Laws (PPACA) the list of preventive services was expanded (since it wasn't large enough) to include these new benefits without deductible or co-pays.  The expanded benefits include:
  • Well-Women Visits
  • Domestic Violence Screening and Counseling
  • Breastfeeding support, counseling, supplies (including the cost for renting breastfeeding equipment)
  • Annual counseling and screening for HIV for all sexually active women
  • Annual sexually transmitted infection counseling for all sexually active women
  • Screening for gestational diabetes for all pregnant women
  • FDA approved contraception methods, sterilization procedures and contraceptive counseling
Non-Grandfathered and New Health plans will be required to provide the expanded coverage beginning the first plan year that begins on or after August 1, 2012.  I am guessing that regardless of your plan beginning grandfathered or not (here in the state of Maryland), this expansion will be included in all plans.

As a side note, it seems as more and more benefits are being added to health plans, and costs continue to rise because of these forced expansions, insurance companies will be blamed for increasing premiums when the blame should be squarely on the back of our government.