52 million Americans have pre-existing conditions that could hinder coverage if Obamacare repealed

Kimberly Leonard

About one in four people have pre-existing conditions that would have made it difficult for them to get health insurance prior to President Barack Obama's health care law, according to a new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The law, the Affordable Care Act, made it illegal beginning in 2014 for health insurance companies to deny coverage for someone with a pre-existing condition – a move that used to be common practice among insurers, who would use an applicant's health status and history to decide whether to issue coverage. Some examples of conditions that could lead to automatic denial included cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease and pregnancy.

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Though President-elect Donald Trump has said he intends to follow through on his campaign vow to "repeal and replace" the health care law, he also has said he would be in favor of keeping its provision for people with pre-existing conditions, and many Republicans in Congress have said the same. Among voters, it remains one of Obamacare's most popular provisions.

The Kaiser Family Foundation used data from two large government surveys as well as manuals from insurance companies to arrive at their conclusions. If the pre-existing protections were to be repealed, then 52 million people under the age of 65 would have difficulty getting private coverage, the analysis concluded. The data do not include the number of people who may not be denied because of their condition but who might have had to pay more before Obamacare. Others may have had particular medications denied, such as those used to treat HIV, arthritis or diabetes.

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The analysis also found that in some states – Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia – roughly 30 percent of adults under age 65 have pre-existing conditions. Florida and California have the highest number of people with pre-existing conditions, at 3.1 million and 4.5 million, respectively.

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