Federal Health Reform Ban on Discrimination Against Pre-existing Conditions Will Benefit 1 in 4 Non-elderly Oregonians

News Release
May 27, 2010 Download PDF

A report published today estimates that about one in four Oregonians under age 65 will gain from the recently enacted federal health care reform law’s ban on discrimination against persons with pre-existing health conditions.

Without the ban, some 794,000 non-elderly Oregonians risk having health insurance coverage denied due to a pre-existing condition, according to Families USA, a national consumer advocacy group that published the report.

Download this news release:

Federal Health Reform Ban on Discrimination Against Pre-existing Conditions Will Benefit 1 in 4 Non-elderly Oregonians (PDF), May 28, 2010

Related materials:

Read the Families USA report Help for Oregonians with Pre-Existing Conditions (PDF), May 27, 2010

Read the Families USA report Health Reform: Help for Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions (PDF), May 6, 2010

The new federal law, however, bars insurance companies from denying health coverage to individuals diagnosed with a pre-existing condition, from charging such individuals more for coverage or from selling insurance policies that exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions. Starting on September 23 of this year, some of the anti-discrimination protections will begin to cover children. By 2014, the ban will fully protect everyone.

“Today’s report highlights one important way in which the landmark health reform legislation will benefit Oregonians,” said Janet Bauer, policy analyst with the Oregon Center for Public Policy, who reviewed the Families USA report. “The ban against discrimination based on pre-existing conditions is an important part of ensuring that everyone has access to affordable, quality health coverage.”

Those without job-based coverage, a group that typically must buy coverage in the individual market, stand to benefit directly from the protections afforded by the health reform law, according to the report. It noted, however, that even those with health coverage at work could be at risk if they lose or leave their job and have to find coverage in their own.

The report estimated that the older you are, the more likely you are to have a pre-existing condition. Nearly half (47.2 percent) of Oregonians aged 55 to 64 have a pre-existing condition that could lead to a denial of coverage, compared to slightly more than one in six (16.8 percent) Oregonians aged 18 to 24, Families USA estimated.

Families USA said that their report may understate how many Oregonians have pre-existing conditions. The estimates accounted only for individuals with a diagnosed pre-existing condition. The analysis did not take into account Oregonians with conditions that have not been diagnosed because they have not seen a doctor for lack of health coverage, have limited coverage or have failed to seek treatment. “For too long insurance companies have been allowed to discriminate against individuals because of their health status,” Bauer said. “The new health reform law reminds us that our government plays a vital role in protecting Oregonians.”

The Oregon Center for Public Policy is a non-partisan research institute that does in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax and economic issues. The Center’s goal is to improve decision making and generate more opportunities for all Oregonians.