Photograph by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
UPDATE: Two other major health insurance companies have followed UnitedHealth's lead, likewise promising to keep a handful of Obamacare provisions in place even if the Supreme Court ultimately decides to strike down the health care reform law.
CBS News reports that Aetna and Humana announced their decision only hours after UnitedHealth, the largest U.S. heath care insurer by market value, went public with the news that they will keep in place popular provisions such as the one that allows young adults under 26 to gain coverage under their parents' plans.
Politico Pro with the political analysis of the announcements: "They don’t solve the biggest challenges of health care: how to restrain costs and cover people with pre-existing conditions who are already running up big health bills. But they’re giving the major insurers a chance to generate some good publicity while getting ahead of the political curve."
While other major insurers, such as the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and WellPoint, aren't onboard yet, the move by the industry to embrace the popular parts of Obamacare provides some good news for politicians on both sides of the aisle.
For Democrats, if nothing else, it's a very public reminder that their landmark reform law contained provisions that were popular with both insurer and insuree, a point that shouldn't be undervalued given current public opinion on the individual mandate. But the news appears even better for Republicans, who now will be better positioned to avoid potential backlash if the president's law is overturned by the Supreme Court, a move that would strike down the widely popular provisions along with the more controversial individual mandate.
Monday, June 11: One of the nation's largest insurance companies said Monday that it will continue to abide by a handful of popular provisions in President Obama's health care law even if the Supreme Court ultimately decides to strike down the landmark measure.
"The protections we are voluntarily extending are good for people's health, promote broader access to quality care and contribute to helping control rising health care costs," UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley said in a statement. "These provisions make sense for the people we serve and it is important to ensure they know these provisions will continue."
UnitedHealth, the largest U.S. health care insurer by market value, provides coverage to about 26 million Americans. Included in the provisions that the company vowed to keep in place is one that allows young adults under the age of 26 to gain coverage under their parents' plan, Reuters reports.
Others provisions that will remain: the continuation of some co-pay free preventive services (like annual checkups, immunizations, and screenings), and the elimination of lifetime dollar limits. UnitedHealth will also allow for third-party appeals of denied treatments, and won't cancel insurance retroactively unless it's a case of fraud.
NPR explains that, notably, the company did not say they'd accept all children for coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions. Addressing that provision, UnitedHealth said "one company acting alone cannot take that step." They're the first company in the nation to announce their commitment to parts of the healthcare reform law, and it's unclear if others will follow suit.