Thursday, September 23, 2010

Health Care Reform's First Victims

The first provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act take effect Thursday, and casualties are already piling up. This week's include children who'll have to go without health insurance. The earliest victim of ObamaCare was nHealth, a Virginia-based insurer that specializes in health savings accounts. It announced in June that "considerable uncertainties" created by the new law would force it to close its doors by year-end. The customers and 50 employees of the once-promising startup will have their lives turned inside out by this decision. Now, starting Thursday, any health insurance company offering child-only plans has to accept kids — anyone under 19 — with pre-existing conditions. This mandate has the potential to bankrupt insurers, and big carriers WellPoint, Cigna and CoventryOne, Humana, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Aetna, and Golden Rule have reacted by announcing they'll no longer sell new child-only policies. Some will stop writing the policies at the national level while others will leave markets only in certain states. But it won't stop there. Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger told the Hill newspaper that she guarantees "it's happening probably in every state." Not every insurer will quit the market. But those staying will operate in a less-competitive environment, which will hurt consumers...more

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