The Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits health plans from imposing a lifetime dollar limit on most benefits received by Americans in any health plan renewing on or after Sept. 23, 2010.  While some plans already provided coverage with no limits on lifetime benefits, millions of Americans were previously in health plans that did not.  

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Employer Health Benefits Survey, 59 percent of all workers covered by their employer’s health plan in 2009 had some lifetime limit placed on their benefits. In addition, 89 percent of people with individually purchased coverage had a lifetime limit on their benefits.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently estimated the number of Americans receiving these new protections, combining results from the 2009 Kaiser employer survey with those from America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) report with data from the 2009 to 2011 versions of the Current Population Survey (covering calendar years 2008-2010).

Overall, HHS estimated that 70 million persons in large employer plans, 25 million persons in small employer plans, and 10 million persons with individually purchased health insurance had lifetime limits on their health benefits prior to the passage of the ACA.  These 105 million Americans now enjoy improved coverage without lifetime limits.

Among the 105 million Americans for whom lifetime limits have been removed as a result of the Affordable Care Act, 75.3 million are non-Latino White, 11.8 million are Latino, 10.4 million are African-American, 5.5 million are Asian, and approximately 500,000 are American Indian or Alaska Native.  Approximately 28 million of those benefiting are children, with the remainder of the 105 million split almost equally between adult men and adult women.