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Companies plan to continue with healthcare reforms

Monday June 11, 2012
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UnitedHealthcare, Aetna and Humana became the first health insurance companies to announce they will retain certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act even if the Supreme Court overturns all or part of the law later this month.

The companies said Monday they will continue with policies related to coverage of preventive healthcare services and of dependents up to age 26.

"These provisions make sense for the people we serve, and it is important to ensure they know these provisions will continue," Stephen J. Hemsley, president and CEO of UnitedHealth Group, said in a news release.

The companies will continue to offer, as UnitedHealthcare’s news release read, "a spectrum of preventive healthcare services that do not require cost sharing" in the form of co-pays. These include yearly preventive medicine visits, screening for hypertension and diabetes and all standard immunizations recommended by the American Committee on Immunization Practices.

Another key provision of the ACA that will continue under these policies is the eligibility of young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26. This option will remain for young adults regardless of their eligibility for other insurance coverage and whether they are enrolled in school, listed as a dependent on their parents’ tax returns or married.

No company is expected to announce it will voluntarily follow another core provision of the ACA: the requirement to offer insurance to all comers regardless of preexisting conditions. UnitedHealthcare said such an action would be financially untenable unless all companies agree to do it.

If the Supreme Court overturns the ACA or tosses out the mandate for most Americans to buy health insurance, Congress and the president — whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney — will have to decide which if any reforms can proceed.

Increasing access to preventive care and allowing young adults to remain insured through their parents are popular provisions that could receive widespread support in the debate over the future of healthcare reform. Thus these companies may simply be getting ahead of the curve while also scoring public-relations points, analysts said.

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