I’m one of the more than 67 million women and girls in the United States who have a so-called “pre-existing condition.” And if conservative lawmakers had their way, I’d be left out in the cold when it comes to health insurance coverage. Why? Because I’ve given birth. That’s right – having my son could essentially blacklist me from getting affordable, comprehensive health coverage if opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) succeed with their relentless efforts to sabotage it.
The ACA brought many welcome changes to how health insurance works in our country. Critically, it prohibits discriminatory insurance practices in pricing and coverage in the individual market. In other words, it put an end to the formerly common practice of insurers denying women coverage, or charging us more for insurance, based on so-called “pre-existing conditions.” For example, before the ACA, in the individual insurance market women were often denied coverage or charged a higher premium if they had diabetes, lupus, an eating disorder, pregnancy, Cesarean birth and/or HIV or AIDS.
Conservative opponents of the law want to turn back the clock and allow insurers to once again block millions of people with pre-existing conditions from getting coverage. Most recently, in its refusal to defend the ACA in Texas v. United States, President Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) argued that two critical provisions of the ACA are unconstitutional. Without these provisions, women could be denied coverage based on our medical histories, age, occupation or other factors. We also could be charged more, and priced out of the insurance market altogether, based on our health status. And insurance companies could try to reinstate gender rating, a common pre-ACA practice in which they charged women higher premiums than men.
It’s not right, and the potential impact is staggering. After all, there are nearly 6 million pregnancies – a “pre-existing condition” – in the United States each year. In a new fact sheet we created with our colleagues at the Center for American Progress, we estimate pregnancies, as well as the number of women and girls with pre-existing conditions who could be charged more or denied coverage for individual insurance, in each state. Check it out here to understand how many people in your state would be harmed by losing pre-existing conditions protections in the ACA.
We must keep raising our voices and making clear to our elected officials that we expect them to protect, not undermine, our ability to access affordable, quality health care that meets our needs – no matter our health history.