Friday, November 9, 2018

We MUST keep coverage for pre-existing conditions

Despite the Republican party's efforts to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act, "Obama Care" is still with us. Most of the American public have come to realize that a crucial safety feature of the ACA is its mandate that all health insurers cover pre-existing conditions, and that repealing it would take us back to the dark ages when you could find yourself without insurance when you needed it. How widespread are "pre-existing conditions?" An analysis by Avalere health looked at the subject in depth. They found that of the 204 million people who were not in Medicare or Medicaid, fully half: 102,000,000, had one or more so-called pre-existing conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, chronic lung disease, cancer, mental health problems and others. A December 2018 report by CNN also found that roughly 50% of all Americans had some condition or illness that would be considered a pre-existing condition by health insurers, and that a whopping 86% of Americans aged 55 to 64 have one or more such conditions.
In descending order of frequency, the conditions that would not be covered were: acne (>50 million), anxiety (39 million), diabetes (30 million), asthma (25 million), sleep apnea (25 million), depression (20 million), extreme obesity (18 million), chronic lung disease (16 million), coronary disease (16 million) and cancer (15 million)
Since most employer-based health insurance covers families, this means that almost every person is potentially subject to this problem. In the bad old days, you could find that if you switched jobs, your new employer's health plan would not cover you for any illnesses you had. Your choices were then to remain as an indentured servant to your current plan or switch jobs and keep your fingers crossed. However we go, whether towards Single Payer or by improving our current system, maintaining coverage for all medical problems must be a bedrock principle. Read more in my book, Prescription for Bankruptcy.

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