The controversial health care law will benefit more than 2 million North Carolina adults who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions, according to a report by an advocacy group.
Families USA, a Washington-based nonprofit that supports that 2010 law, said approximately 2.1 million people in the state ages 18 to 65 will no longer be denied coverage or pay higher rates for pre-existing conditions once the ban on such practices by insurance companies goes into effect in 2014.
“North Carolinians will now have peace of mind and security they want for themselves and their families,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA. “Professionals from all walks of life have for decades faced the threat of physical and financial devastation because they could not afford to buy a health insurance policy due to their pre-existing conditions.”
The group was highlighting a popular provision of an otherwise unpopular law. According to a June poll by Reuters, 56 percent of Americans opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as a whole, but 82 percent supported the ban on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
The number of North Carolinians suffering from pre-existing conditions increases with age, with nearly half of those 55 to 64 falling into this category, Pollack said. The report did not take into consideration those 65 and older because they are eligible for the federal insurance program Medicare.
Pollack noted that the number of people with pre-existing conditions likely represents an underestimate for two reasons. First, it counts only people who have been diagnosed with pre-existing conditions, leaving out uninsured people who haven’t seen a doctor. Also not considered are those with conditions, such as high blood pressure, that would not qualify them for the high-risk insurance pools created by the law.
Eight members of the U.S. House from North Carolina voted July 11 to repeal the law in its entirety.
Representatives of Rep. Renee Ellmers, a Republican from Dunn who supports the repeal, did not respond to requests for comment about the report on pre-existing conditions.
As a candidate in 2010, Ellmers, a nurse and clinic director, told the Clayton Daily Star that she opposed the provision prohibiting denial of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. “Let the private insurance companies decide how they are going to handle the pre-existing conditions situation,” Ellmers said at the time.
Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate, has promised to repeal the law. He said in June that he supports protections against denying coverage for people with pre-existing conditions who already have insurance, but he does not support an across-the-board ban on denying coverage for such conditions.