NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- September 23 marks the six-month anniversary of health reform. It's also the date when several key insurance changes come into effect.
Here's what you need to know about how your insurance is affected.
If you get insurance through your boss: Many people who are insured through work won't notice immediate changes to their health plans until their health plans renew, which is tied to companies' open enrollment periods. Health plans offered through large employers usually get renewed on Jan. 1.
But the mandates could kick in sooner for health plans sold to new entities or individuals after Sept. 23.
Here are some key changes coming into effect:
This new provision could also push companies to look for ways to restrict the number of new people added to their health plans. [Employers get tough on insuring 'family' ]
Small business impact: The changes that kick in on Sept. 23 also apply to small businesses with 50 employees or more that already offered insurance coverage prior to reform.
Companies that didn't offer coverage pre-reform and have no more than 25 workers will be given incentives such as tax credits and grants to encourage them to offer insurance coverage, said Dorothy Miraglia, director of benefits with AlphaStaff, a firm that manages employee benefits programs for small businesses.[Tax change for small businesses]
The government estimates that 4 million small businesses will be eligible for health insurance tax credits. These include a credit of up to 35% of the premiums employers pay on worker plans. For small non-profit companies, the credit is up to a 25%.
Also, the 35% maximum credit is given to employers with 10 or fewer full-time employees, said Miraglia.
If you buy insurance yourself: For consumers who buy health insurance directly from insurers, some of the same key changes go into effect this month.
Most importantly, insurers can't drop you when you get sick or because you made a mistake on your coverage application. Insurers also can't set annual or lifetime limits.
If you have children under age 26, you can insure them if your policy allows for dependent coverage. Individual plans can't deny or exclude coverage to any child under age 19 for pre-existing conditions.
If you're a senior citizen: If you have Medicare prescription drug coverage and are affected by the donut hole, this year you will get a one-time tax-free $250 rebate to help pay for prescriptions.
The prescription drug coverage gap that develops when Medicare stops paying for drug coverage and patients can't afford to pay for drugs out-of-pocket is called the "donut hole."
In 2011, if high prescription drug costs put you in the donut hole, you'll get a 50% discount on covered brand-name drugs while you're in the donut hole.
Also in 2011, Medicare will cover certain preventive services without charging you Medicare Part B (coverage for doctors' services, outpatient care, home health services) coinsurance or deductible.
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