A Health Care Victory for Cancer Patients

CURE, Summer 2010, Volume 9, Issue 2

Cancer patients and survivors may have extended insurance benefits under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Cancer patients and survivors in the U.S. can begin to worry less about some insurance issues. Thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which was signed into law March 23, insurance companies will no longer be able to drop or deny coverage or claims to policyholders with pre-existing conditions. It also limits the ability of insurance companies to charge higher premiums based on health status.

Starting in June, people who have been uninsured for six months and/or have pre-existing conditions, such as cancer, can join a high-risk pool that will provide affordable insurance. This protection is a temporary solution until January 2014, when it will be illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage or charge higher premiums based on a person’s medical history. Starting this September, the bill also bans pre-existing condition exclusions for children under 19.

Also in September, the law will prohibit insurance companies from dropping anyone after he or she receives a cancer diagnosis.

Other provisions under the PPACA that might affect cancer patients and survivors include: dependent children can remain on parents’ insurance until age 26; full coverage of preventive care services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies; a ban on annual and lifetime spending caps on insurance coverage; required coverage of routine care costs for those enrolled in clinical trials; and support for medical research. (CURE will feature an article on health care reform in the Fall issue.)