Here’s what’s promised under the new federal health care bill:
Parents who get a new job won’t have their kids turned down for health insurance because of an ongoing medical problem.
Young adults, such as those just out of college who often can’t afford to buy individual health insurance plans, can remain on their parent’s plans until they’re 26.
And customers won’t be charged co-payments for preventative care, such as checks for diabetes.
These are some of the changes health care professionals say families will see most quickly from the national health insurance legislation passed by the House of Representatives on Sunday.
The changes are expected to start going into effect within six months of its signing by President Barack Obama.
For another group — the uninsured — the wait will be longer.
About 1 million people without health insurance in Washington state will find it easier and cheaper to get coverage when the next set of federal health care provisions go into effect in 2014, said Mike Kreidler, state Insurance Commissioner, on Monday.
Until then, the number of people without health insurance will probably continue to grow, he said.
Across Snohomish County, health care providers have mixed opinions about what the changes could mean for them.
“We think it’s a good idea we’re moving toward some solution,” said Dr. Mark Raney, of Sky Valley Family Medicine in Sultan. “But we don’t really know if the solutions are in here or not.”
Another federal program, the Cash for Clunkers program, had the unintended effect of putting some Skykomish Valley auto mechanics out of work, Raney said.
Many people agree on pieces of the legislation, such as whether everyone should have health care, he said. And many agree that insurance companies should not be allowed to dump people because of serious health conditions.
“When you ask people if they want health care reform … there’s thousands of pages in this bill nobody has ever read, written by somebody with a vested interest,” Raney said.
“Who was there representing uninsured, rural patients and families and primary care doctors from underserved areas? I’m not sure those folks have a lot of political power and pull in this.”
He knows that through 2014 he’ll continue seeing lots of low-income and uninsured patients.
“I had three this morning; working people without health insurance,” he said.
They drove to the clinic from their home in Rice, about 265 miles away in Eastern Washington, he said. They used the clinic when they lived in town and have since moved, he said.
Dan Dixon, a vice president with Seattle-based Swedish Health Services, called the legislation “hardly perfect” but also “nothing short of historic.”
One change he endorses will allow adult children to remain on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26.
The individual health insurance plans now available to these young adults are not only expensive, the deductibles sometimes hit $5,000 a year, he said.
And they often don’t cover what these young adults need, which is primary and preventative care, Dixon said.
Rick Cooper, chief executive of The Everett Clinic, said the health insurance bill lays the groundwork for important changes to occur, such as significantly reducing the number of people without health insurance.
“I don’t see wholesale, significant disruptions (to health care) as a result of this legislation,” he said.
It can encourage health care that is more efficient and improves services, he said.
“What we are hopeful of is that this legislation will fundamentally address what we believe are problems in how health care is paid for… that it will improve quality at a lower cost,” Cooper said.
“That is much superior to our current, do-more-to-get-paid-more approach to health care,” he said.
Sharon Salyer: firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-339-3486.