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HHS details overhaul rules and required benefits

Associated Press Modified: November 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm •  Published: November 20, 2012

The administration also laid out more details behind previously announced rules that govern how insurers cover people. The rules prevent insurers from denying coverage to someone because he or she has a pre-existing or chronic condition, and they also limit how much insurers can vary premiums by age.

Starting in 2014, the overhaul will expand coverage to millions of people in part by offering tax credits that help them buy coverage on the exchanges. Enrollment for plans sold on the exchanges will start next October, and HHS officials said Tuesday they were confident the exchanges and the coverage sold on them will be ready.

"Now that the law is here to stay, I'm hopeful that states and other partners will continue to work with us to implement the law," ealth and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.

The latest update from the administration seems to be keeping "with the spirit of providing comprehensive benefits at an affordable price," said Neil Trautwein, a vice president of the National Retail Federation, a business group whose members will be heavily affected by the law.

"Of course, the proof is in the price tag of the policy," he said, noting that it's still unclear how the required benefits will affect premiums.

HHS and the Labor Department issued the proposed rules and will take feedback or comments on them for the next 30 days. After that, the government will issue the final rules.

Mendelson said the Obama administration is filling in details of the law that will help insurers and government officials plan for the coverage expansions.

"The administration has to get specific about what the rules of the road are going to be for 2014," he said. "What they're doing now is coming out with all those details."