You probably know by now that we're totally jazzed about health care reform. The insurance industry has been allowed to openly and legally discriminate against people with HIV and other chronic illnesses but that's coming to an end. The new Patient's Bill of Rights goes into effect on September 23, 2010, making health insurance fairer for every insured American, including those with HIV.
This is only the beginning of the march to health care equality. Allow us to tell you what you've won, America:
• No more coverage bans for sick kids: HIV rates are increasing among youth and particularly youth of color but insurance companies won't be able to deny them coverage under their parent's insurance plan just because they are sick.
• Your policy can't be unfairly canceled: Remember when you applied for your health insurance but forgot to disclose that you fractured your thumb in the eighth grade? Your plan could have canceled your policy for this omission. This disgusting insurance practice ends tomorrow.
• No lifetime limits on health care spending: A cap of $1 million for health care services might sound pretty generous, but not to someone who's been living with HIV/AIDS for 20 years. Right now, one-third of Americans have policies with lifetime caps - but not after tomorrow.
In addition, starting September 23, you'll have the right to appeal insurance company decisions, choose any doctor who is in your plan, get free access to prevention and wellness services, and more. Great stuff? Yup. And there's more to come between now and 2014, when the new law is fully implemented.