Published by: www.kff.org
Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), having a pre-existing health condition, such as a severe respiratory illness, made it harder or even impossible for people to get and keep private health insurance in the individual market. Coverage people bought on their own in this market was “medically underwritten” in most states. That meant applicants had to answer questions about their health status and history and, based on their answers, could be turned down, charged more, or offered a policy that permanently excluded their health condition. Job-based group health plans could also exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions for up to one year. However, people could change jobs and move to a new group health plan without a new exclusion period as long as they didn’t have a gap in coverage longer than 2 months. And even before the ACA, employers could not deny eligibility for group health benefits or charge people more for group health benefits based on health status.