Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services released a new report showing that up to 129 million Americans have a pre-existing condition and would likely be denied coverage in the individual health insurance market. According to the analysis, examples of what may be considered a pre-existing condition include, “heart disease, cancer, asthma, high blood pressure, and arthritis.”
Republicans have questioned the results of the report by arguing that many Americans with pre-existing conditions already have insurance coverage, but during this afternoon’s floor debate in the House, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) took the argument one step further, belittling the ailments:
GINGREY: One hundred and twenty nine million people with pre-existing conditions! They would all have to have hang nails and fever blisters to have pre-existing conditions and if you believe those statistics, I’ve got a beach to sell you in Pennsylvania.
These comments prompted Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) to defend the report by reading off the actual ailments that would be considered a pre-existing condition. Watch it:
As Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, explained yesterday, while many of the 129 million Americans already have insurance, they would have a hard time finding coverage if the law were repealed and they were to lose their job. “A number of people are in jobs with large employers where people can’t be underwritten because of their health condition, that’s good news. But those folks frankly can’t look at leaving that jobs, can’t start their own business, can’t have the freedom to retiring early before they have qualify for Medicare because they are terrified they will lose that insurance coverage,” Sebelius said, pointing out that insurers deny coverage to 1 out of every 7 who apply for it in the individual market.
And while Gingrey’s “hang nail” comments are certainly ridiculous, insurance companies are not above denying coverage for fairly elementary ailments. Insurers will disqualify you for just taking certain medicines because of the possibility of future costs, including common drugs as Lipito and Nexium and often deny coverage to individuals in high risk occupations, such as firefighting, lumber work, telecom installation, and anything more dangerous than office work.