June 12, 2012

Health Insurers Plan To Keep Some Obama Policies, Despite Court Decision

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com

Three major U.S. health insurance companies said that even if President Barack Obama's healthcare plan is overturned by the Supreme Court, they still plan to keep some of the protections.

The high court is expected to decide later this month whether Obama's healthcare overhaul should be struck down.

UnitedHealth Group, rivals Aetna and Humana all made pledges on Monday to preserve some of the provisions that have taken effect through the domestic policy that was passed in 2010.

The companies said they would still offer coverage for dependents up to age 26 under their parents' plans. They also said they will continue to offer certain preventive healthcare services without out-of-pocket cost-sharing.

"The protections we are voluntarily extending are good for people's health, promote broader access to quality care and contribute to helping control rising health care costs," UnitedHealth Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hemsley said in a statement. "These provisions make sense for the people we serve and it is important to ensure they know these provisions will continue."

The three companies said they are committed to maintaining some of the provisions that are now in place, but a whole new round of changes are due to go into effect in 2014.

The law is designed to expand coverage to over 30 million uninsured Americans in 2014, through establishing insurance exchanges and broadening the Medicaid program.

According to The Commonwealth Fund, about 6.6 million young adults joined their parents' health insurance plans last year due to the provision allowing children up to 26 to stay on their parents' plan.

The health insurance companies said they will maintain a provision that provides clear ways for members to appeal coverage claim decisions.

Both UnitedHealth and Humana said they plan to keep two other provisions as well, including: forgoing lifetime dollar coverage limits on policies and eliminating recessions.

Cigna Corp, another large national insurer, said it was prepared to proceed with the provisions according to what was appropriate for its customers once the court decision is made.

UnitedHealth said protections are effective immediately and will be available to current and future plan members.

The hot issue being discussed by the Supreme Court is whether a law should be enacted that requires all individuals to buy health insurance coverage or face a penalty.

Although the law currently prevents health insurers from denying coverage to children up to age 19 with pre-existing medical conditions, UnitedHealth said it was committed to working with all other participants in the health care systems to sustain that coverage.

The ban on denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions will apply to adults starting in 2014.