If the Supreme Court throws out the Affordable Care Act, your finances and your future could pay the price.
Retiring early or starting a business might become too hazardous if your access to health insurance isn’t guaranteed. You might have to wait a year before preexisting conditions are covered by an employer’s plan. Young adults could be kicked off their parents’ policies. Millions of people who buy insurance through the ACA marketplaces or who now qualify for Medicaid could lose their coverage as well.
Even if you were able to keep your health insurance, you could face caps on your coverage that expose you to enormous medical bills. Preventive care and birth control could cost you more. Medicare beneficiaries could face higher premiums, deductibles and copays. Insurers could cancel your policy retroactively for even minor mistakes on your application.
In the decade since the ACA became law, many Americans have become so accustomed to the protections and savings afforded by the landmark legislation that they may not realize how much could change if Obamacare is struck down. Its effects on health care are so pervasive that nearly every American could be affected, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks health care issues.
THE RETURN OF PREEXISTING CONDITIONS
The Trump administration and a group of Republican attorneys general have asked that the entire law be thrown out. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Nov. 10.
Before the ACA, insurers routinely used preexisting health conditions as a reason to deny coverage or charge people more. Preexisting conditions included serious ailments such as cancer or heart disease as well as more common conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes and obesity, and temporary conditions including pregnancy. Insurers denied about 1 in 5 applications for individual policies because of preexisting conditions, and some employer-provided group policies required people to wait up to a year before their preexisting conditions were covered.
Back then, many people who had health issues — or whose family members did — avoided changing jobs, starting businesses or retiring early because of the risk they couldn’t find affordable health insurance.
President Trump signed an executive order in September announcing “a steadfast commitment to always protecting individuals with preexisting conditions,” but the order alone can’t force insurers to offer coverage if the ACA is struck down.
And America is a land of preexisting conditions. Half of adults under age 65, or up to 133 million people, had health issues that could cause them to be denied coverage or charged exorbitant premiums, according to a 2017 government analysis.
‘USE IT AND LOSE IT’ COVERAGE
Health insurance is meant to help people pay their medical expenses and avoid potentially catastrophic bills. Before Obamacare, however, using your insurance could cause you to lose it.
If someone with an individual insurance policy got sick, the insurer could scour the person’s application looking for errors. Even minor mistakes could cause the company to revoke the policy, a practice called