Today, in most states, private health insurers can deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. The Affordable Care Act will eliminate this problem beginning in 2014 by requiring health insurance companies to cover everyone regardless of health status. Only five states now offer this kind of protection to their residents: Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. Everywhere else, you're on your own.
Who is most at risk in this Wild West health insurance saloon? All of us. Among people aged 19 to 64, the GAO reports that pre-existing conditions can be found in as many as...
- 72% of women
- 59% of men
- 84% of 55-to-64-year-olds, 74% of 45-to-54-year-olds, 65% of 35-to-44-year-olds, 55% of 25-to-34-year-olds, and 45% of 19-to-24-year-olds
- 72% of non-Hispanic whites, 59% of blacks, and 51% of Hispanics
Source: GAO, Private Health Insurance: Estimates of Individuals with Pre-Existing Conditions Range from 36 million to 122 million