• May 28, 2024

Here Is How Obamacare Made Things Worse for Patients With Preexisting Conditions….

 Here Is How Obamacare Made Things Worse for Patients With Preexisting Conditions….

Despite former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act promises to insure the uninsured, Obamacare actually made things worse for patients with pre-existing conditions. What is often referred to as Obamacare began as an attempt to give healthcare to people without health insurance? In fact, Obamacare would have been largely successful in doing just that, according to the initial Congressional Budget Office predictions.

The Senate’s Democratic leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), identified a major political problem with that goal early on, however. Schumer noted that roughly 95 percent of those who vote already have health insurance. So Obama’s Affordable Care Act was promising to invest a lot of money into people who don’t vote.

Perhaps for that reason, the public case for health reform underwent a dramatic shift, according to The Daily Signal. On the eve of its passage, virtually every advocate who went on national TV to advocate for the Affordable Care Act had nothing to say about insuring the uninsured.

Instead, their message focused on protecting sick people from abuses by insurance companies. More often than not, that meant protecting people who migrated from an employer plan to the individual market with a preexisting condition. That message has continued. Virtually every Republican proposal to reform Obamacare has been attacked by opponents as weakening protections for those with preexisting conditions. The message is not aimed at voters who have individual insurance. It is aimed at voters with employer coverage who fear they may end up in the individual market and be mistreated. So what has been the result of health care reform under Obamacare?

Have things gotten better for people with preexisting or chronic health care problems? Or have they gotten worse? The Market Before ObamacareWharton economist Mark Pauly and his colleagues conducted an extensive study of the individual market in the pre-Obamacare era. They found that less than 1% of the population was both uninsured and uninsurable because of a preexisting condition. What happened to those Americans? Prior to Obamacare, those with preexisting conditions were protected under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (1996), which required states to enact measures to protect such people. Most states complied by setting up risk pools, which provided subsidized insurance.

The insurance typically resembled a standard Blue Cross plan and the premium enrollees paid was often 50% to 100% higher than the premium paid for comparable coverage in the individual market. This arrangement was not perfect. In some states, there were waiting lists, for example. And there often was a waiting period for coverage of preexisting conditions. But the vast majority were handled in this way.

The Affordable Care Act introduced a temporary program, effective in 2010-2014, prior to the full phase-in of the law, stipulating that people who were denied coverage in the individual market were able to enroll in a federally funded risk pool. They would pay a premium no higher than the average premium charged to healthy people in the individual market. Over a three-year period, roughly 135,000 people took up this offer. Significantly, at the end of this period, virtually no one in the country was forced to be uninsured because of a health condition. Despite this reality, Obamacare went on to impose massive changes to the market, in the form of a major new Washington-designed program that created heavily regulated “exchanges” to sell insurance products on the individual or small group market.


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