The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Text (Bill Number H.R. 3590)

On March 23, 2010 in Washington, D.C. at The White House, President Barack Obama signed the historic Health Insurance Reform Law Overhaul.

President Barack Obama signed into law a nearly $1 trillion health care overhaul that ranks among the biggest changes ever devised by Washington and will reshape the way virtually every American receives and pays for treatment. It will rework fully one-sixth of the U.S. economy and for the first time cement insurance coverage as the right of every U.S. citizen.

It was a day of history for the nation — and sweet vindication for President Barack Obama. His grin seemed wider than any in recent memory. After more than a year of arguing, struggling and dealing, President Barack Obama signed into law a nearly $1 trillion health care overhaul that ranks among the biggest changes ever devised by Washington and will reshape the way virtually every American receives and pays for treatment. It will rework fully one-sixth of the U.S. economy and for the first time cement insurance coverage as the right of every U.S. citizen.

At the White House, jubilation was in the air on Tuesday. Democratic lawmakers and advocates, crowded into the East Room for the signing ceremony, hooted and hollered at nearly every Obama sentence. They snapped photos of the president — and themselves. Vice President Joe Biden was caught whispering a profanity as he exclaimed to the president what a “big f***’ing deal” it was.

Read the full text of the Protection and Affordable Care Act – Bill Number H.R. 3590 below. (more…)

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Do a Total Background Check on Yourself – Annual Consumer Reporting Agencies

The Federal laws FCRA and FACTA, which govern the credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, also regulate a whole universe of other corporations known as “nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies” and include hundreds of companies, such as: the Medical Information Bureau Inc. (MIB), OPTUMInsight (formerly Ingenix Inc.), Milliman Inc., LexisNexis C.L.U.E. Insurance Reports, the Insurance Services Office (ISO – A Plus Property Reports), ChexSystems Inc. (FIS), CoreLogic, Inc., CBC Innovis, Early Warning Services, TeleCheck, and Equifax Workforce Solutions – The Work Number (TALX).

In fact, just as financial companies rely on “credit reports” to establish credit for customers, others companies also utilize credit report files to assess consumers and charge higher prices in the markets of personal insurance (life, health, disability, and long-term care), residential housing and rentals, employment and income history, banking and checking account history, and property insurance (home, rental, other property, automobile, motorcycle, boating). There are an estimated 400 nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies collecting and selling personal data on 350 million Americans.

For example, health and life insurance corporations rely on some of these nationwide consumer specialty reporting agencies to provide powerful technologies for evaluating and pricing individual insurance applicants: personal “medical report” files.  The Washington Post says that “medical reports” are “like credit reports for your health records” and have been created on more than 200 million Americans.

The Top 25 Most Requested Annual Credit Reports

Here is a comprehensive list of websites, telephone numbers, and mailing addresses for the top 25 most frequently requested annual consumer reports available to you from the nationwide consumer reporting agencies under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Through these reports, these consumer reporting agencies extensively monitor your personal medical, insurance, employment, rental, and banking history.

Federal law entitles all consumers to check and verify each report, once every year because these reports significantly impact your options and costs of credit. Use the information below to do a total background check on your credit reporting agency files. As The Consumerist advises, “Be sure to check them out and correct any errors, before a crisis hits.”
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Text of Health Care Bill – Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590)

On March 23, 2010 in Washington, D.C. at The White House, President Barack Obama signed into law a nearly $1 trillion health care overhaul that ranks among the biggest changes ever devised by Washington and will reshape the way virtually every American receives and pays for treatment. It will rework fully one-sixth of the U.S. economy and for the first time cement insurance coverage as the right of every U.S. citizen.

However, until the regulations take effect in 2014, if you have a pre-existing medical condition, you’re going to have a hard time buying individual insurance, in all but a handful of states. You might get turned down completely, or be charged very high premiums and probably also have to wait as long as a year (paying those very high premiums the whole time) before the health plan covers your condition’s treatment.

Health and life insurance corporations have powerful technologies for evaluating and pricing individual insurance applicants: personal “medical report” files.  The Washington Post says that these medical reports, which are “like credit reports for your health records,” have been created for more than 200 million Americans.

Alarmingly, your medical report files may include both medical and non-medical information about you.  For instance, personal data collected by the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) may include medical conditions, credit report history, driving records, criminal activity, drug use, sexual orientation, participation in hazardous sports, and personal or family genetic history.  Using information from your medical report files, insurance companies can charge higher premiums or terminate coverage.

No consumer should pay for health or life insurance without first reviewing their annual medical report files.  Under Federal law, all consumers are entitled to an annual copy of their medical report files from the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies, including the Medical Information Bureau Inc., Milliman Inc., and Ingenix Inc.

Read the full text of the Protection and Affordable Care Act – Bill Number H.R. 3590 below.

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Video – First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks on Health Insurance Reform and Older Women

Watch as First Lady Michelle Obama speaks about the difficulties senior women face in today’s health insurance market and the importance of reform. From the The White House, Washington, D.C. on November 13, 2009.

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Video – President Barack Obama On the Passage of Health Care Reform

Watch as President Obama speaks moments after the historic passage by the House of Representatives of the Senate’s health reform legislation.

After a vote on March 21, 22, 2010 in the U.S. House of Representatives (Congress) to pass health care reform (health insurance reform), President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, speaks to all Americans on the change they will finally see as they are given back control over their own health care and health insurance choices.

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Organizations that Protect Consumer Privacy in Health and Medical Records

Health information technology (“Health IT” or “Electronic Medical Records” or “Personal Health Records (PHR)”) has tremendous potential to improve health care quality and reduce costs while empowering patients to play a greater role in the management of their own care. At the same time, however, electronic storage and exchange of personal health information poses risks to privacy.  Unaddressed, privacy concerns can stand in the way of realizing the benefits of health IT, for neither patients nor providers will make full use of a system they do not trust.

As corporations such as Google (Google Health), Microsoft (Microsoft HealthVault), IBM (IBM Healthcare and IBM Health Integration Framework for Healthcare Providers), and UnitedHealth Group (MyOptumHealth.com) develop personal health systems (PHS) to exchange private medical records and health information, consumers must demand fully transparency in the use of their data and require access to check and verify their own personal records.

Federal laws give you the right to see, get a copy of and amend (correct) your medical record by adding information to it.  Additionally, most states have laws that give you rights to your medical records.  The following organizations help consumers and patients navigate the complex relationships between privacy, security, confidentiality, and the management of personal electronic health records.

The Prescription Project (The Pew Charitable Trusts)
Created with the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Prescription Project seeks to eliminate conflicts of interest created by pharmaceutical marketing by promoting policy change within academic medical centers, professional medical societies and public and private payers. In addition, the Prescription Project will advance state and national level policy solutions. New prescription drugs and medical devices are revolutionizing the practice of health care, enhancing disease management and improving quality of life. However, aggressive pharmaceutical marketing to physicians is creating real and perceived conflicts of interest in the medical profession and raising questions about the appropriateness of treatment choices. These practices can compromise patient care and increase health care costs. It is essential that physicians base their prescribing decisions on accurate and unbiased information, not on misleading marketing materials.
www.PrescriptionProject.org

Georgetown University’s Center on Medical Records Rights and Privacy
Georgetown University’s Center on Medical Records Rights and Privacy provides state-specific guides to help consumers access their medical records and electronic medical records. The Center on Medical Record Rights and Privacy is based at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute, a non-partisan multi-disciplinary group of faculty and staff dedicated to conducting research on key issues in health policy and health services research. The Center is dedicated to raising public awareness of the rights and responsibilities associated with medical records and other health information. The Center focuses on a range of topics related to consumers’ rights to their own medical records and privacy protections afforded to this information. The Center has expertise in the Health Privacy Rule issued under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act as well as state laws that address medical record rights and privacy. The Center provides information on these topics to a broad range of stakeholders such as policy makers, health care professionals, consumers, and the media through research studies, policy analyses, testimony, and consumer guides.
http://hpi.georgetown.edu/privacy/records.html

The Health Privacy Project
The Center for Democracy and Technology’s Health Privacy Project addresses policy questions, including: the proper role of notice and consent, the right of patients to access their own health records, identification and authentication, secondary uses, and enforcement mechanisms. The Center for Democracy and Technology’s Health Privacy Project also tackles the traditional exchange of records among health plans and providers, as well as new consumer access services and personal health records. The Health Privacy Project is a resource for information on medical records confidentiality. Its web site includes information on federal HIPAA regulations as well as state laws of all 50 states.
www.healthprivacy.org
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Video – The Influence of Money and Lobbying on Health Care Reform

Watch as Bill Moyers explores at the influence of money and lobbying on health care reform efforts in Washington, D.C. on The Bill Moyers Journal on PBS.

Last month, testimony in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation by a former health insurance insider named Wendell Potter made news even before it occurred: CBS NEWS headlined: “Cigna Whistleblower to Testify.” After Potter’s testimony the industry scrambled to do damage control: “Insurers defend rescissions, take heat for lack of transparency.”

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Disqualified for Health Insurance by Pre-Existing Conditions

In all but a handful of states, if you have a pre-existing medical condition, you’re going to have a hard time buying individual insurance. You might get turned down completely, or be charged very high premiums and probably also have to wait as long as a year (paying those very high premiums the whole time) before the health plan covers your condition’s treatment.  On the Consumer Reports Health Blog, Michael Miano shares how his insurance company disqualified him from coverage,

“When Michael Miano, 61, of Abingdon, Va., first sought to buy individual insurance in 2003 after leaving a federal regulatory position and exhausting his COBRA benefits, he was distressed to learn that he was uninsurable.” I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes but I’m perfectly healthy,” he says. “I follow a strict diet. I’m not overweight and I walk 20 miles a week. I check my glucose levels regularly. I take oral medication, and my diabetes is completely under control.”

His problems result from the practice called medical underwriting. It’s illegal nationwide for insurers to discriminate against people in group plans on the basis of their health. But in all but a handful of states, medical underwriting for individual plans is allowed.”

Whether you can get an individual health insurance policy, and how much you’ll have to pay for it, depends largely on your state’s laws and regulations. Some states allow medical underwriting, a practice in which insurers can reject people with illnesses, exclude specific conditions from coverage, and charge people with health issues much higher premiums. Other states outlaw medical underwriting. You can research your state’s rules at www.healthinsuranceinfo.net, maintained by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.
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Denied Insurance Because of A Medical Coding Error in Her MIB Report – Video

Consumer Reports Health’s Cover America Tour realized the impact of the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) when they visited Sheila (above) in Gulfport, Miss., the day after her 50th birthday.

When she attempted to apply for health insurance, Sheila was surprised when she was rejected for an individual health insurance policy by three different companies. She was even more shocked when she learned why: Her record with MIB listed her as having a history of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Sheila does suffer from asthma, but COPD is supposed to be used to indicate more severe diseases of the lungs, such as emphysema or severe bronchitis. No company would insure her with this damaging mark on her record.

Sheila eventually traced the problem to a coding disparity at her doctor’s office. She says letters and phone calls to both her doctor and MIB have been to no avail, and the problem remains uncorrected on her record, effectively blocking her from obtaining individual health coverage. Unable to obtain health insurance coverage because of this medical coding error on her MIB report, Sheila has been forced to exhaust her 401(k) savings to pay out of pocket for healthcare costs.

Watch Sheila’s story and, before you apply for insurance or pay another monthly premium, make sure you request a copy of your medical report file from the Medical Information Bureau (MIB).

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