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Health care consumer protections take effect today

New census data says 16.7% of Americans are without health insurance:

The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 46.3 million in 2008 to 50.7 million in 2009

But starting today, that will change for many without coverage, including young adults and kids with pre-existing conditions.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett filed a report on the changes saying that 33,000 young adults in Michigan will qualify for health insurance on their parents' plans. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that insurance companies allow for children to stay on their parents' plans until they're 26.

For many parents with sick kids, these changes are welcome news. Today, kids with pre-existing medical conditions cannot be denied by an insurance company. The White House has said 72,000 kids with pre-existing conditions can now be covered because of this new provision.

Republicans and other critics contend that the new health care law will increase health care costs and create more government bureaucracy.

In a New York Times article the White House disputes this claim.

The administration has estimated that premiums should rise no more than 2 percent because of the new consumer protections, and warned this month that it would have “zero tolerance” for efforts to blame the law for larger increases.

That 'zero tolerance' policy is being tested. Some big insurance companies in California and Oregon have told their shareholders they're getting out of the business of separate policies for kids, because of the new consumer provisions on pre-existing conditions. This from the Los Angeles Times:

At least two major insurers — Anthem Blue Cross and Aetna — have announced that they won't offer individual policies in California to any children who don't already have coverage. Other companies are doing the same in states across the country.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Oregon has dropped out as well.  In an AP article they say these companies are dropping out because "too many families may wait until their children are sick to buy insurance, now that federal health reform law guarantees coverage regardless of health."

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.