Monday, May 08, 2017

Health bill's potential waiver for coverage of pre-existing conditions would hit areas Trump won

The health bill passed on Thursday by the House would make insurance more costly for pre-existing conditions, which are more common in the South and Midwest, areas where President Trump was the most popular, Max Ehrenfreund reports for The Washington Post. Pre-existing conditions include obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancers and Alzheimer's disease. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, at least 30 percent of the population has pre-existing conditions in 12 states won by Trump—Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia. (Post graphic: Where Americans have the most pre-existing conditions)
"Obamacare generally requires insurers to charge all their customers comparable prices, with rates varying only by their ages, where they live and whether they smoke," Ehrenfreund writes. "Under the Republican proposal, states could get exemptions from those rules by requesting a federal wavier. Insurers operating in those states could ask potential customers to provide information about their health and charge them different rates based on their answers — although insurers could only charge more for those customers who previously allowed their health insurance to lapse for at least three months."

"It is difficult to tell how many people could pay more if the Republican bill becomes law," Ehrenfreund notes. "If states did not try to waive the rules, patients would continue to have some protections.The insurance lobby would probably urge state officials to ask for waivers, because screening out the sickest applicants would allow insurers to bring down their costs. Advocates for patients and public health would oppose waivers, and if those groups prove to be politically weaker in red states, then it would be more likely that consumers with preexisting conditions in those states would pay more."

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