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The cost of repealing the Affordable Care Act: People with pre-existing conditions

This post was updated on September 10, 2012.

Mitt Romney is campaigning on the promise to immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act, the health care law President Obama signed in 2010 to strengthen health insurance for everyone and make sure millions of Americans can find the affordable and quality health care they need. Romney said:

“If I’m president, I will repeal ObamaCare, and I’ll kill it dead”

But as for how a repeal would actually affect Americans, Romney and his campaign are evading the specifics—particularly when it comes to the 89 million people who could be denied coverage under their proposal if they have a pre-existing condition.

The Affordable Care Act provides significant protections for millions of Americans who have a pre-existing condition, a health issue that you may have before you enroll in a health insurance plan. Those conditions can include common health issues like high blood pressure, asthma, cancer, or a heart disease.

Take a look at how the health care law has protected Americans who need health care coverage and how Romney’s repeal would leave them without the health care they deserve.

Before the health care law

  • Insurance companies regularly denied coverage or limited benefits for people with pre-existing conditions.

  • Plans that offered coverage for children younger than 19 years-old could deny coverage or limit benefits for a family trying to enroll a child with a pre-existing condition.

After the health care law

  • In two years, Americans with pre-existing conditions “cannot be denied coverage, be charged significantly higher premiums, be subjected to an extended waiting period, or have their benefits curtailed by insurance companies.”

  • Today, plans that cover children “can no longer exclude, limit, or deny coverage to your child under age 19 solely based on a health problem or disability that your child developed before you applied for coverage.” This is true even if “a child’s health problem or disability was discovered or treated before you applied for coverage.”

  • People who have been locked out of the insurance market can now get coverage under the newly-created Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, which provides comprehensive health coverage to Americans who have been without health coverage for a least six months, who have a pre-existing condition, or who have been denied coverage because of a health condition.

Who will Romney’s repeal hurt?

Up to half of Americans under 65 and as many as 17 million children suffer from a pre-existing condition. If Romney gets to repeal health care reform, millions of people like Mike from Wisconsin will face a future of rising health care costs without any coverage that they need.

In 2008, after losing his health insurance from his wife’s employer, Mike looked to buy his own private insurance plan. But because Mike has been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in his left index finger,  insurance companies told him, “you’ll have to try elsewhere, you’re uninsurable.” Mike learned that Rheumatoid Arthritis is a “red-flagged” condition in the health insurance industry that makes it nearly impossible to find coverage.

Thanks to the health care law, Mike got the coverage he needed through Wisconsin’s version of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. If Romney repeals the law,  he will “kill” any chance of health care security for millions of people like Mike.