What Is A Pre-existing Health Condition?
A pre-existing condition is a health issue that you have before a given health insurance policy starts.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits health plans from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charging more for premiums .
A pre-existing condition is a health condition that exists before a health insurance policy begins. Conditions include diabetes, cancer, asthma, sleep apnea, lupus, depression, high blood pressure, among many other life-threatening illnesses and chronic diseases. At least 50 million Americans [i] have some sort of pre-existing condition. Additionally, 25% of adults [i] have two or more chronic health conditions.
As protection under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurance companies cannot change your coverage or increase costs based on previous health or medical conditions. If you have pre-existing conditions, you can shop for coverage during open enrollment and apply for the health plan you want.
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Yes, you can still get coverage with a pre-existing condition. Health insurance companies cannot deny coverage for medical conditions you had before enrolling in a plan. They also cannot limit benefits or raise premium costs.
This protection law was passed in 2010 as part of the ACA and went into effect for plans beginning January 1, 2014. [i] Previously, insurance companies could refuse to cover pre-existing conditions, making it difficult for those with previous health conditions to find an insurance plan.
There is one exception: grandfathered individual health plans. If your current policy started before March 23, 2010, it does not have to cover a pre-existing condition, and your rates can increase. Consider a new Health Insurance Marketplace plan if this affects you.
Insurance companies evaluate your current health status when you apply for coverage. Insurers look at your medical history for treatments or diagnoses of chronic conditions.
Before 2014, health insurance companies could implement a pre-existing exclusion period, or a waiting period, before you could receive coverage relating to a pre-existing condition. Now, many insurers cannot use the exclusion period.
Commonly excluded pre-existing conditions before the ACA: [i]
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Certain Cancers
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Cerebral palsy
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Among others
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Pregnancy is not considered a pre-existing condition. [i] Insurance companies may not reject coverage for your pregnancy or childbirth. If you have a baby or adopt after open enrollment, you can qualify for the Special Enrollment Period because it’s considered a life-changing event.
Although an insurer can’t refuse coverage, it’s essential to consider your options. There may be health plans that match your needs better if you have chronic or pre-existing conditions.
Here’s a checklist of what to consider before applying for a plan:
- Prescription Drugs: Does your plan have a list of medications that your health plan covers? Knowing this information could help you determine how much your prescriptions will cost and how much coverage you will need.
- Chronic Care Management: Some insurance plans cover care management for chronic conditions such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, mental health, and other diseases. Medicare may help cover the costs of chronic care management services if you have two or more severe conditions.
- Doctor visit: Do you visit the doctor’s office often? Check to see if your providers are in-network with the plan you’re considering.
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