Healthcare changes go into effect

By Brittany Pieper – email

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) –After lots of heated debate, congress pushed through the biggest overhaul to the healthcare system in American history. Now, 6 months later, Americans with insurance will get more benefits. For example, some preventative measures like screenings and vaccines will no longer require co-pays. There are no life time or annual caps, and Americans now have the right to demand their insurers reconsider claims for tests or treatment that have been denied.

Some of the biggest changes that go into effect include coverage for children. Insurance companies can not turn down a child under age 19 for pre-existing conditions, and they must cover children under their parents plan up to age 26.

Betty Wesley, who has grandchildren in college, welcomes the change.

"Our children are trying to go to college, and they can't afford insurance also and trying to go to college. So, that's a good reason," she said.

Others, like Blue Cross Blue Shield member Kim Hilman are a little more tentative. She's glad her 2 children will now have guaranteed coverage, but she thinks the changes will be costly.

"It's going to be hard for everybody to pay the premiums and everything else," said Hilman.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana says Hilman and the other 1.2 million people they cover will see a small increase because of these changes.

"We expect the financial impact, these items, to be somewhat minimal. Maybe in the range of perhaps 1% premium cost," said BCBS Regional Marketing Director, James Bustillo.

However, Bustillo also said the increases won't stop here, "There are a myriad of changes in the coming months and years."

While they're working to keep coverage affordable, as companies must provide more preventative care to more people, premiums will likely continue to increase.

A lot of the more costly changes go into effect in 2014.

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