New year brings new state insurance laws
More than 20 states passed insurance-related laws that went on the books Jan. 1, 2012, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Here is a look at some of the notable ones:
In Nevada, it’s now illegal for all drivers to send text messages or use handheld phones while driving. In North Dakota, all drivers are prohibited from texting while driving, and drivers younger than 18 are prohibited from using a cellphone in their cars.
In Oregon, an exception to the state’s anti-texting law took effect Jan. 1. You’re now allowed to text if you’re operating a tow truck, roadside assistance vehicle or a vehicle owned by a utility company.
In Oregon, employers no longer are able to stop providing health, disability, life or other insurance to workers who are on jury duty, and employers can’t threaten to fire an employee because of their service as a juror. The new law applies to Oregon companies that employ at least 10 workers.
In California, the old law guaranteed a woman up to four months of unpaid pregnancy-related disability leave. The new law now says that during this four-month leave, employers must pay for maternity coverage under a group health plan.
“The time period leading up to and immediately following the birth of a child is absolutely critical for the health needs of both mother and baby. Further, it often represents one of the most transformative and stressful periods in a woman’s life. Suddenly ending health coverage during this time is unconscionable,” California state Sen. Noreen Evans says in a statement.
In Louisiana, health plans must disclose — in plain language — which prescription drugs they cover. This disclosure must be made within three days of it being requested by a potential health plan member or anyone else who asks for the information.
In California, the Department of Public will determine which entities can provide hypodermic needles and syringe exchange services in areas with high numbers of HIV infections.
Florida has new reporting requirements for doctors and dentists who dispense controlled substances for treatment of pain not connected to cancer.
In New Mexico, oncologists can get an income tax credit of $1,000 per patient – up to $4,000 a year – if they participate in certain cancer clinical trials in rural areas. Also, another law requires health insurers to make it public when they’re seeking rate increases, including an explanation for the planned rate hike.