Annual and lifetime benefit limits
Health insurers protected themselves from the 20 percent of the population that accounts for 80 percent of health care spending by placing dollar limits on claims paid out annually and over the life of a policy. "The vast majority of people would never bump against the limits, but for those who did, it often had devastating consequences, both financially and in terms of their health outcome," Corlette says.
Obamacare outlawed lifetime limits for essential health benefits on all plans, including grandfathered plans, in 2010 and prohibits annual limits on new health insurance plans starting in 2014.
"This makes coverage more predictable and less of a roulette game for people," Chollet says. "Removing these limits is incredibly important in order to make health insurance meaningful for people who become ill."
But Corlette says some insurers already may have found a workaround.
"Because the law specifies a dollar limit, some insurance companies have replaced their dollar limits with benefit limits such as 'only 10 days in the hospital per year' or 'only so many doctor visits per year' that could potentially have the same impact," she says.