Friday, October 1, 2010

Healthcare Reform and Peace of Mind for Family Caregivers

Besides caring for you child and trying to get the best educational and medical services, families of children with special needs have additional practical concerns.  Did you know that 60% of bankruptcies are due to medical debt?  (Source:  Families USA).  Healthcare reform should help eliminate some of the financial stress on families.  Effective 9/23/10 there are several reforms for children:

  • No lifetime caps and limited annual caps

This means that there can no longer be a maximum amount the insurance company will pay over the child’s lifetime.  Annual limits are still in effect until 2014. 

  • No rescinding policies

This means that coverage can’t be dropped when someone gets sick.

  • No pre-existing condition exclusions

This means that coverage can’t be denied for a child enrolling in the plan.

  • Dependent coverage to age 26

This means that all children, both with and without disabilities, can be covered under their parent’s employer.

  • Prevention with no cost share

Wellness benefits are provided with no additional cost to families (for more information on preventive benefits see

To access free materials from a children and healthcare reform teleconference from the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network, see  The first PDF file was the actual presentation.  In addition the entire call recording, including Q&A, will be archived at

Please note that there are exceptions for “grandfathered” health plans in existence on 3/23/10:

1.  These plans must follow the lifetime cap requirements.  But only group, not individual, plans have to comply with the limits on annual caps.

2.  For pre-existing conditions, it only applies to group, not individual, plans.

3.  These plans do not have to follow the prevention requirements

On the brighter side, the federal rules will not override state rules that exceed the new requirements in healthcare reform.  For example, NJ already has mental health parity, higher age for dependent coverage, and “guaranteed issue” for pre-existing conditions.

These new provisions should help family caregivers of children with special needs to not have to worry about how they can get their children the care they need.


Resources on health care reform for families of children with special needs:


* Catalyst Center


* Community Catalyst


*Families USA


*Family Voices


*HealthCare for America Now


Remain Hopeful,



  1. Fantastic information, thank you so much for this!

  2. You're very welcome-so glad it was helpful!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this great information, Lauren!
    Wonder if health reform is making a difference? Read this heartfelt post from a mom in Florida. ttp://