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President Obama signed health insurance reform into law just a few minutes ago. Here are some important highlights from the new law. Effective in 2010: Employment-based and individual insurance policies will have to end pre-exisiting condition exclusions for children. Individual and group plans will not be able to rescind coverage except in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation. Policies can have annual caps on benefits only if allowed by the secretary of Health and Human Services. Children up to age 26 can stay on their parents insurance (yeah, yeah, we know that 26-year-olds aren’t children, but you get the point). Small employers (under 25 employees, average salary under $50,000) who offer insurance get a tax credit. A new national high-risk insurance pool will be available to people with pre-existing medical conditions who have been uninsured for at least six...

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More COBRA Help

Perhaps you recall that last spring President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which among other things provides a 65% subsidy for COBRA premiums for those who become COBRA eligible between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009. If you don’t recall this momentous event, then clearly you have not been reading our blog regularly, like all good people should, since we blogged about it back then. We even included a link to the IRS regulations that govern the program. Gosh, we are marvelous, not to mention thorough. Well, now there’s news that the program will be extended to February 28, 2010. The extension is included as part of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, which the President signed into law on December 19. Here’s an important thing to know about this extension: your COBRA coverage doesn’t...

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Health Care Reform? How About Health INSURANCE Reform?

A recent case out of South Carolina’s Supreme Court gives a glimpse of just how unfair, unreasonable and downright cold-hearted at least one insurance company can be when dealing with a person with HIV. Here’s what happened, according the court’s ruling. On May 15, 2001, Jerome Mitchell, Jr. of Florence, South Carolina, applied for health insurance through Fortis Insurance Company. Jerome was 17 years old at the time and no longer covered under his mother’s health insurance policy. The application for the insurance included a health questionnaire. Among other things the application asked if he had been diagnosed or treated “for any immune deficiency disorder by a member of the medical profession.” Jerome answered “no.” A little over a year later Jerome donated blood, and on May 13, 2002 he received a letter from the Red Cross informing him...

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Our New Hero

So we’re all swooning over our new legal idol, attorney Seth M. Lloyd, with the law firm Dykema Gossett PLLC. He took on one heck of a confused, complicated, messy insurance case for a client with end-stage cancer and fixed everything — in about a week. And he did all the work for free! Back in April, our client Luis received his regular payment coupon from his health insurance company. It was a rather confusing document, listing “total due” and a “past due” amount, with no indication whether the past due amount was included in the total due amount. The statement also showed a “due date” of May 1 and a “grace date” of June 1, with no indication of which amounts were due when. Did the grace period apply only to the amount currently due? Did it also...

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Only for the COBRA Wonks

You may have heard that under Obama’s economic stimulus package, officially known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the federal government will pay 65% of COBRA premiums for people who were involuntarily terminated from their jobs between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009. As you might imagine, there are a whole lot of technical specifics used to determine who is eligible. If you aren’t scared of ten-dollar words and bureaucratic verbosity, you can read the official IRS explanation of the plan here. Or you could just call us at 312-427-8990 if you have questions. Operators are standing...

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Another COBRA Success Story

A lot of people think that the only legal cases that matter are the big, headline-garnering lawsuits. But often, a little bit of simple legal assistance can make a huge difference in someone’s life. And it doesn’t come with thousands of dollars in attorneys fees attached. Case in point: a few weeks ago Bill called the Council because he was facing a big problem with his insurance continuation under COBRA. As you probably know, COBRA is a federal law that allows you to continue your employment-based health insurance for at least 18 months after you lose your job, so long as you pay the full premiums yourself. Well, Bill was almost at the end of his 18 months. He had started receiving Social Security when he left his job, but his Medicare wouldn’t start for another 11 months. He...

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