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Cancer and Health Care Reform

We posted last week on the Cancer Rights Conference in Chicago, Illinois hosted by the Disability Legal Resource Center. The health care reform bill was one of the most discussed topics at the conference. Formally called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the bill instates changes in health insurance coverage over the next decade.  Many of these changes must occur by specific dates, including July 1, 2010.

Starting today, Americans that have been denied health insurance because of pre-existing medical conditions, such as cancer, will be given the opportunity to buy insurance through high-risk insurance pools.  The federal government allocated more than 5 billion dollars across the 50 states to establish such pools, which will cover people who have been without insurance for at least 6 months. People who live in the 19 states that are not participating in the program will have the opportunity to join a federal high-risk health insurance pool.

This is a viable option for young cancer survivors who age out of parental health insurance plans and are denied coverage from other companies. In contrast to most private insurance plans, the high-risk pools will not have annual or lifetime spending limits.

The federal government is also launching a web portal to explain the new and upcoming changes in health insurance options. Initially, it will include state-specific options for high-risk insurance pools, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  Over time, the site will include additional adjustments in health insurance reform that will be executed through 2020.  Starting in 2014, new health insurance exchanges will replace the high-risk pools and allow any American to gain access to affordable health care. We will keep our readers informed as to how all the changes in health care policy will affect cancer and fertility preservation.

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