Democrats outline health insurance guarantees to benefit everyone

Much of the healthcare reform debate has focused on the 47 million Americans who lack health insurance. But reform isn’t only about the people who don’t have insurance. It’s about those who have coverage, said R. Keith Roark, chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party.

“Hysteria over healthcare reform is being driven by Republicans and their allies in big out-of-state insurance and pharmaceutical companies who have a huge stake in keeping the status quo,” Roark said. “It’s unconscionable that rather than try to guarantee better healthcare for everyone, including the millions of Americans who like their insurance, Idaho Republicans are resorting to lies about what reform will mean for Idaho families and businesses. Fear mongering won’t obscure what the vast majority of our citizens know: The healthcare system is broken, and if we don’t fix it now, it will get worse. ”

Roark added that most insured Americans are satisfied with the coverage they have, but many people have concerns about losing coverage if they become sick, lose their job, move to a new job or launch a business of their own. That’s why Democrats including President Barack Obama and Congressman Walt Minnick agree on these Eight Health Insurance Guarantees that must be part of any reform legislation passed this year:

1) No discrimination for pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing coverage because of medical history.

2) No exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles or co-pays. Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.

3) No cost sharing for preventive care. Insurance companies must fully cover – without charge – regular checkups and tests that help prevent illness, including mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.

4) No dropping of coverage for seriously ill. Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or lessening coverage for people who become seriously ill.

5) No gender discrimination. Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging people more because of their gender.

6) No annual or lifetime caps on coverage. Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage people receive.

7) Extended coverage for young adults. Children will be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.

8) Guaranteed insurance renewal. Insurance companies will be required to renew a policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won’t be allowed to refuse renewal if someone becomes sick.

“These principles will hold the insurance companies accountable, and end the unscrupulous business practices that lead to windfall profits for health insurance executives and poorer health outcomes for everyone else,” Roark said.

People interested in sorting out fact from fiction in health insurance reform can get information at a new website, http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/.

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