Health Care Reform: Ending Insurance Discrimination
Did you know that health insurance companies can discriminate against you because of a pre-existing condition like diabetes or high blood pressure? It's one of the biggest problems people in Pennsylvania and many other states encounter and that prevents them from getting health insurance. This article in the New York Times illustrates the devastating effect this discrimination can have. We need to pass legislation that says that a pre-existing condition will not prevent you, your son, daughter, spouse, or loved one from getting the care you deserve. That is included in the healthcare bill reported out of my committee, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Nine percent of Pennsylvanians have diabetes, and 28% have high blood pressure. Under current law, a health insurance company can deny you coverage or charge you more if you are one of the millions of Pennsylvanians with one of these conditions, or refuse to cover any treatment related to the condition. A 2007 survey by The Commonwealth Fund found that 36% of individuals who had looked at individual health insurance policies in the last 3 years were discriminated against because of their health history.
Health care reform would open new doors for those who have been discriminated against because of their health status. The language in the Affordable Health Choices Act is simple: "A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage may not impose any preexisting condition exclusion with respect to such plan or coverage." (Sec. 2705)
In addition to ending discrimination based on health status, health insurance companies will also be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for people who become seriously ill; charging you more because of your gender; or placing an annual or lifetime cap on the coverage your receive. These consumer protections are an essential component of health care reform in the Affordable Health Choices Act.