This is the first in a series of blog posts celebrating the benefits that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides to people with disabilities. For the full list of upcoming blog posts, see today’s news item.
The ACA Prohibits Denial of Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions
Chances are that if you ask the average American what the ACA changed about health insurance, one of the first things they will say is that it requires health insurance to accept all enrollees regardless of pre-existing conditions. In many ways, it is hard to imagine health insurance without that protection. However, it is not that long ago that insurers could deny anyone coverage simply because they had a pre-existing condition. In fact, it was estimated that prior to the ACA’s enactment that there were about 3.5 million people between the ages of 16 and 65 who had pre-existing medical conditions and/or disabilities and were uninsured. For those with a pre-existing condition who did have coverage, there was always the fear that if they lost their job or source of insurance, they would be unable to get other coverage. It also meant that many were forced to stay in less desirable work situations only because they did not want to lose their coverage.
That’s why one of the most popular provisions in the ACA is the prohibition against the discrimination that existed pre-ACA when insurance companies were permitted to deny coverage to individuals solely because they had a disability or some other pre-existing condition. Even many of the opponents of the ACA agree that this type of discriminatory behavior by insurance companies should not be permitted. The best way to address the issue has been and will continue to be debated among the politicians and policymakers. However, we celebrate the ACA’s prohibition against denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions as it represented a huge step forward in eliminating one of the last areas of discrimination against people with disabilities.