By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd / AlterNet / Jan. 18, 2011
Before the health care bill banned it, Americans with “preexisting conditions” were frequently rejected for health coverage by private insurers — it was one of the hot button issues during the initial debate. Today [1/18/11], the Washington Post reports reports that 129 million Americans under the age of 65 are afflicted with preexisting conditions — up to half of the nation’s population that does not yet qualify for Medicare.
On Wednesday [January 19, 2011] House Republicans will move to repeal the Affordable Care Act; that likely won’t pass the Senate, but it will set a precedent for the GOP to begin dismantling its tenets — including the clause banning rejection for “preexisting conditions.” Should they succeed, they will continue a disastrous practice that will leave an astounding amount of Americans vulnerable. The Post:
The study found that one-fifth to one-half of non-elderly people in the United States have ailments that trigger rejection or higher prices in the individual insurance market. They range from cancer to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, asthma and high blood pressure.
The smaller estimate, by Health and Human Services Department researchers, is based on the number of Americans whose medical problems would make them eligible for states’ high-risk pools – special coverage for people denied insurance because of their medical history. The researchers arrived at the larger figure by adding in other ailments that major insurers consider a basis to charge customers higher prices or to exclude coverage for some of the care they need.
According to a report released last year by Rep. Henry Waxman, 650,000 Americans were denied health coverage by four top insurers between 2007-2009. The Post’s report claims the GOP dismissed both reports as a PR move on the eve of their vote, but the fact remains. Even though the repeal is symbolic, the glibness with which the GOP is willing to put so many citizens at risk is astonishing.