Soon, pre-existing conditions may disqualify a member of your family from getting health care. Again! Since 2014, insurance companies haven’t been able to deny coverage due to a prior medical condition.
But with Governor Haslam’s blessing, the Tennessee Attorney General has partnered with other Republican Attorneys General and the Trump Administration to take away this protection.
Some examples may include pregnancy, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, coronary artery disease, migraine, cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke, sleep apnea, mental health disorders, kidney or liver disease, fibromyalgia and arthritis.
Individuals with these conditions would at least get charged a higher premium but could also have benefits carved out or be denied coverage altogether.
What will the loss of pre-existing protections mean to Tennesseans?
Currently, about one in five Tennessee adults (ages 18-64) are without health insurance.
Of those with insurance, many have employer-sponsored health care. But many do have individual policies and they are at risk.
According to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 30 percent of non-elderly adults in the Knoxville area and 30 percent in the Memphis area have a declinable pre-existing condition. In Kingsport-Bristol, it’s over 40 percent.
Tennessee leads the nation in bankruptcies, and most bankruptcies are due to medical bills.
When Governor Haslam was interviewed on NPR about this, he said:
“Any time you take away any kind of benefit, that is politically tricky at best if not a real death wish politically.”
What Haslam misses is that for most developed nations on earth, this isn't a "benefit", it's a human right.
His comment shows how much power and influence the private insurance financial interests have purchased in the legislature.
But if more Tennesseans are denied coverage, the demand for universal health care will get even stronger.
Matthew Hine, M.D.