The Affordable Care Act is at work within health insurance in Montana. The new health care law forces insurance companies to play by the rules, prohibiting them from dropping your coverage if you get sick, billing you into bankruptcy because of an annual or lifetime limit, or (soon) discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition.

All Americans will have the security of knowing that they don’t have to worry about losing coverage if they’re laid off or change jobs. And insurance companies now have to cover your preventive care like mammograms and other cancer screenings. The new law also makes a significant investment in State and community-based efforts that promote public health, prevent disease and protect against public health emergencies.

The New Health Care Law is already making a difference for health insurance in Montana:

Providing new coverage options for young adults
Health plans are now required to allow parents to keep their children under age 26 without job-based coverage on their family coverage, and, thanks to this provision, 3.1 million young people have gained coverage nationwide. As of December 2011, 12,000 young adults in Montana gained insurance coverage as a result of the health care law.

Making prescription drugs affordable for seniors
Thanks to the new health care law, 11,500 people with Medicare in Montana received a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole in 2010. Since the law was enacted, Montana residents with Medicare have saved a total of $10,993,915 on their prescription drugs. In the first five months of 2012, 1,852 people with Medicare received a 50 percent discount on their covered brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole. This discount has resulted in an average savings of $693 per person, and a total savings of $1,283,173 in Montana. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole.

Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay
In 2011, 115,065 people with Medicare in Montana received free preventive services – such as mammograms and colonoscopies – or a free annual wellness visit with their doctor. And in the first six months of 2012, 49,819 people with Medicare received free preventive services.

Because of the law, 54 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 166,000 in Montana. But for women especially, it’s a new day. Beginning August 1, women in Montana can now get coverage— without cost-sharing—of even more preventive services they need. Approximately 47 million women will now have guaranteed access to additional preventive services without cost-sharing for policies renewing on or after August 1, 2012, including 140,400 in Montana.

Providing better value for your premium dollar through the 80/20 Rule
Under the new health care law, insurance companies must provide consumers greater value by spending generally at least 80 percent of premium dollars on health care and quality improvements instead of overhead, executive salaries or marketing. If they don’t, they must provide consumers a rebate or reduce premiums. This means that 25,353 Montana residents with private insurance coverage will benefit from $2,607,244 in rebates from insurance companies this summer. These rebates will average $194 for the 13,400 families in Montana covered by a policy.

Scrutinizing unreasonable premium increases
In every State and for the first time under Federal law, insurance companies are required to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10 percent or more. Montana has received $1 million under the new law to help fight unreasonable premium increases.

Removing lifetime limits on health benefits
The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. Already, 319,000 residents, including 116,000 women and 81,000 children, are free from worrying about lifetime limits on coverage. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014.

Creating new coverage options for individuals with pre-existing conditions
As of April 2012, 317 previously uninsured residents of Montana who were locked out of the coverage system because of a pre-existing condition are now insured through a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan that was created under the new health reform law.

Supporting Montana’s work on Affordable Insurance Exchanges
Montana has received $1 million in grants for research, planning, information technology development, and implementation of Affordable Insurance Exchanges.

$1 million in Planning Grants: This grant provides Montana the resources needed to conduct the research and planning necessary to build a better health insurance marketplace and determine how its exchange will be operated and governed.
Preventing illness and promoting health
Since 2010, Montana has received $3.9 million in grants from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act. This new fund was created to support effective policies in Montana, its communities, and nationwide so that all Americans can lead longer, more productive lives.

Increasing support for community health centers
The Affordable Care Act increases the funding available to community health centers in all 50 states, including the 84 existing community health centers in Montana. Health centers in Montana have received $26.5 million to create new health center sites in medically underserved areas, enable health centers to increase the number of patients served, expand preventive and primary health care services, and/or support major construction and renovation projects.

Strengthening partnerships with Montana

The law gives states support for their work to build the health care workforce, crack down on fraud, and support public health. Examples of Affordable Care Act grants to Montana not outlined above include:

$72,000 to support the National Health Service Corps, by assisting Montana in repaying educational loans of health care professionals in return for their practice in health professional shortage areas.
$5.4 million for health professions workforce demonstration projects, which will help low income individuals receive training and enter health care professions that face shortages.
$150,000 to support teaching health centers, creating new residency slots in community health centers.
$500,000 for school-based health centers, to help clinics expand and provide more health care services such as screenings to students.
$100,000 to support outreach to eligible Medicare beneficiaries about their benefits.
$286,700 for Family-to-Family Health Information Centers, organizations run by and for families with children with special health care needs.
$100,000 for disease demonstration projects, to test approaches that may encourage behavior modification among Medicaid beneficiaries and determine solutions.
$5.1 million for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs. These programs bring health professionals to meet with at-risk families in their homes and connect families to the kinds of help that can make a real difference in a child’s health, development, and ability to learn – such as health care, early education, parenting skills, child abuse prevention, and nutrition.
$2 million from the Pregnancy Assistance Fund to provide pregnant and parenting teens and women with a seamless network of supportive services to help them complete high school or postsecondary degrees and gain access to health care, child care, family housing, and other critical support.
$2.5 million to provide screening, health education, and outreach services for Montana citizens who may have been exposed to environmental health hazards.

This article comes directly from:

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About Steve Blanchard

I have been in health insurance in Montana since 2006. If you would like to know more about who I am: Check out more about me on: Facebook and Google+

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