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DC Insider: Affordable Care Act and Motorcycling

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Lately, the news cycle in Washington, D.C. – and around the country – has been dominated by the developments surrounding the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Over the past several years, the American Motorcyclist Association has been actively involved in ending healthcare discrimination that occurs when insurers would not cover otherwise insured injuries simply because the participant was motorcycling when the injury occurred. In fact, some companies had formalized this into their employer-sponsored health plans in order to lower costs.

The AMA vociferously opposed this because, as anyone can see, the policy is inherently discriminatory against a legal mode of transportation and a very popular lifestyle.

In fact, in 2003 Colorado included a provision in state law (10-3-11-4 (f) (XII)) declaring these practices as “unfair methods of competition and unfair deceptive acts” to sell insurance that denied “health care coverage … to any individual based solely on that individual's casual or nonprofessional participation in the following activities: Motorcycling; snowmobiling; off-highway vehicle riding; skiing; or snowboarding.”

As you may know, minimum insurance plan requirements are increasing under the ACA. Under the new requirements insurers will be unable to market policies that do not meet the stricter standards.  As a result, many insurance plans will be required to provide an increased level of services and options to meet the requirements.

While the regulations and rules surrounding the ACA are still being written, interpreted and implemented, the AMA is hopeful that under this law all insurance plans will be required to cover all injuries sustained while using a motorcycle or all-terrain-vehicle for recreation, competition or as a legal mode of transportation.

In order to ensure this is the case, the AMA recently wrote a letter to Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius asking if motorcycle discrimination would continue to be allowed under the ACA. As we wait for the response, the AMA’s Government Relations Department is still discussing this important issue with lawmakers at the state and federal level to ensure that all motorcycle related crashes are covered under insurance plans.

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