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Health care reform: No pre-existing condition denials for adults

Until now if you had a medical condition or illness, and couldn’t buy group health insurance at work, you would have had a hard time finding affordable health insurance -- or any kind of private health coverage at all.

But that's changing under health care reform, which, starting in 2014, will prohibit health insurance companies from denying you coverage or refusing to renew your health plan based on your pre-existing conditions.

Children will get this advantage first. As of Sept. 23, 2010, health plans can no longer deny enrollment to children under age 19 based on pre-existing conditions; and in 2014, they will no longer be able to deny coverage based on a pre-existing condition for anyone. The only exceptions are individual health plans that have "grandfather status." These are plans that were in place before March 23, 2010, that have not significantly changed certain benefits or increased out-of-pocket spending for consumers. Grandfathered plans still have to meet many health reform laws but are exempt from certain rules.

In the meantime, the new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans will help fill the gap for consumers who can't otherwise get insured before 2014. The program provides coverage to people who have had no insurance for at least six months and haven't been able to buy insurance from private insurers because of a pre-existing condition.

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