9 Pre-Existing Conditions That Could Prevent You From Getting Health Care
The term "pre-existing conditions" seems destined to become political shorthand for all that is wrong with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The recent legislation marks a titanic shift from Obamacare, and perhaps the most immediately recognizable change surrounds pre-existing conditions. Prior to Obamacare, insurers can and often did deny coverage to applicants with certain health histories. In other cases, insurance companies might charge enormous premiums to those who fell under the umbrella of certain conditions. Now, with the passage of the AHCA, patients with pre-existing conditions are in danger of that happening again.
Much of the backlash to the AHCA surrounds the long list of pre-existing conditions that insurers would be allowed to use as a reason to charge exorbitant fees that effectively deny coverage altogether. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the bill a "moral monstrosity," and it seems many of her colleagues agree. Democrats broke into song after the bill passed, singing "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" (better known to sporting fans as the "Goodbye" chant). The reason? They think Republicans will lose big at the ballot box for taking away insurance from so many Americans.
A perusal of the pre-existing conditions that will affect voters' ability to buy and pay for insurance (I counted at least 237) makes that seem like a pretty good bet.
1. Recently Treated Alcohol Or Drug Abuse
Recent treatment for drug or alcohol abuse is one of the pre-existing conditions for which insurance companies could price buyers out of coverage altogether under the AHCA.
That seems wholly unjustified, if for no other reason than that America is experiencing the deadliest opioid epidemic in its history. More people died in 2015 from accidental overdoses than from car accidents. President Trump has taken explicit aim at the drug industry on several occasions, but this AHCA gutting of money for addiction treatment directly contradicts that.
2. Anorexia And Bulimia
Many have argued that the AHCA essentially makes being a woman a "pre-existing condition." Here's one example of why: Having a past that includes an eating disorder could mean being denied insurance coverage. And since women suffer disproportionately more from eating disorders as compared to men, this will also have an outsized impact on women.
3. Mental Health Conditions (Anxiety, OCD, Depression, Etc.)
For someone with bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder, insurance premiums could go up by as much as 200 percent under the AHCA. Part of this is because the new bill cuts funding to Medicaid, and allows states to opt out of mandated mental health coverage. Medicaid is the largest payer of mental health services in the country — slashing its funding will have ramifications for quality mental health treatment.
4. Pregnancy Or Expectant Parents (Men Too, Believe It Or Not)
Pregnancy is an incredible experience. It's also an expensive one. In fact, it will likely be the costliest health event for anyone in the 18 to 45 age range. And now the AHCA will make that burden even larger by classifying pregnancy or being an expectant parent as a pre-existing condition that insurers can charge much more for.
And even though a man with an expectant partner can also be charged more, this will still disproportionately impact women. That's because up to 40.2 percent of babies are born to unmarried women — that is, women who are probably not on anyone's insurance plan but their own.
This one defies belief. Acne can hike premiums. Welcome to the insurance market in America.
6. Heavy Periods
Many women suffer from irregular periods. Those can now, once again, be considered a pre-existing condition. But erectile dysfunction? That's not up for an insurance premium hike, apparently.
Another reason being a woman is more expensive in the insurance market is migraines. They're once again on the pre-existing conditions list, and they impact women more often than men, at a rate of three-to-one.
8. Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression can be a life-threatening condition for new moms — and their babies. It is real, and it causes real suffering. And now, all credit to the AHCA, it will likely cost women much more to get treatment.
It's been illuminating to watch the "pro-life" party take so many shots at women who give birth. Whether hiking premiums simply for being pregnant or classifying a C-section as a "pre-existing condition," the AHCA doesn't exactly align with Republicans' stated policies.
These are just nine of the at least 237 pre-existing conditions that insurance companies can use to hike up premiums under the AHCA. For many individuals and families, these increases will make already-expensive insurance completely cost-prohibitive. But as evidenced above, not only are some of these "conditions" a byproduct of being a woman, giving birth, or just wanting clearer skin, some of them encompass life-or-death scenarios.
For many who need mental health treatment, being priced out of that help could mean ending up homeless — or worse. For those who require addiction treatment, the lack of available funding means, for many, a return to substance abuse.
It's not too late to change that. You can call your senator before the AHCA vote, and tell them why you're against it. Finding a reason won't be hard; knowing when to stop listing them off might be.