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A brief look at health insurance laws in U.S.

February 27, 2012

Other highlights in the country's history of health insurance include:

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Produced as a bipartisan compromise in 1996, it guaranteed that workers could continue coverage from their jobs even after getting laid off and that spouses could retain coverage even after a divorce. But you had to pay the full cost of the coverage — your premium and the company's premium — plus a 2% fee.

The State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). Created in 1997, it provided coverage for minors whose families had no insurance at work, couldn't afford to buy insurance, yet weren't poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.

Medicare Part D. Created in 2003, it added prescription drug coverage to the government health insurance program for seniors. President George W. Bush insisted on a free-market approach, with multiple companies offering multiple plans. To appease the pharmaceutical industry, the law stipulated that Medicare could not negotiate on drug prices.

President George W. Bush also put billions more into funding for community health centers, which treat more than 20 million patients a year. Care is free for people on Medicaid, and others pay minimal fees.

— Bob Rosenblatt

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