Repeal of ACA preexisting condition rules could leave millions of newly insured without coverage

The Republicans’ proposals to replace the preexisting condition rules (sections 1101, 1331, 1341, and 1501) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) with states’ high-risk pools for individuals who would be denied insurance coverage or charged higher rates in the individual insurance market “will be insufficient to maintain the health care access gains made since 2010,” according to an Issue Brief from The Commonwealth Fund. The Brief, which compared coverage and access gains for people with preexisting conditions after passage of the ACA with state high-risk-pool enrollment prior to the ACA, concluded “[i]f the ACA’s preexisting conditions rules are repealed, millions of Americans could find it difficult to obtain affordable health care.”

Preexisting conditions defined.

The definition of preexisting conditions includes a range described narrowly and broadly, the Brief explained. “The narrow definition includes very costly health conditions” that could result in the denial of coverage for individuals prior to the ACA provision, while “the broad definition includes sight less expensive chronic health conditions” that, without the ACA provisions, could result in unaffordable health insurance costs for most individuals with preexisting conditions.

Key findings.

A prior study conducted by The Commonwealth Fund concluded that there had been significant improvements in people with preexisting conditions to purchase health insurance coverage on their own in 2016 relative to 2010. In this Brief, The Commonwealth Fund determined that people with preexisting conditions gained coverage and had increased access to care and found that improvement of access to care was greatest in states where coverage gains were the greatest. The data indicated that 16.5 million more people were insured in 2015 than from 2011 to 2013. The newly insured population included 16 percent of individuals that fell into the narrow definition and 57 percent that fell into the broad definition.

High-risk pools.

The Brief examined the relationship between the increase in insurance coverage and access to care among individuals with pre-exiting conditions and prior enrollment in pre-existing condition insurance plans (PCIPs) and high-risk pool programs. According to the Brief, ‘there was no relationship between enrollment in the PCIP or the share of the nongroup market enrolled in high-risk pools and gains in coverage or access post-2014.”

SOURCE: www.commonwealthfund.org
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