Covid-19 survivors could lose health insurance if Trump wins bid to repeal Obamacare

Covid-19 survivors could lose health insurance if Trump wins bid to repeal Obamacare

  • ACA prevents denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions
  • Abolition could mean Covid-19 victims could be turned down
    Doctors are searching for a vaccine for Covid-19, and 124,000 Americans have died from the illness. Photograph: Eduardo Muñoz/Reuters

    (theguardian)—Millions of Americans who have survived Covid-19 or face future infections could lose their insurance or be barred from getting coverage should the Trump administration successfully repeal Obamacare.

    The Trump administration asked the supreme court late Thursday to overturn the Affordable Care Act – a move that, if successful, would bring a permanent end to the health insurance reform law popularly known as Obamacare.

    Under the ACA, insurance companies cannot deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. Its abolition would mean millions of Americans who have had or have cancer, multiple sclerosis or other diseases would struggle to find insurance.

    Anyone applying for insurance who subsequently contracts Covid-19 could also find their insurance invalidated or be denied coverage in the future. If they were allowed to keep their insurance, they could still be charged higher premiums or have future treatment for coronavirus turned down.

    “Abolishing the ACA would cause tremendous damage and cause chaos throughout the country,” said Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation.

    Anyone buying health insurance who subsequently contracted the coronavirus would face loss of coverage, she said. “If you bought the insurance and then caught the virus, you would be out of luck,” she said.

    The abolition of pre-existing condition coverage is especially difficult for those who have Covid-19, because so little is known about the long-term health impact of the disease. There is evidence that the respiratory illness causes permanent damage in some patients. Those who have had the disease and recovered would have to disclose their status to apply for insurance, and could be turned down for coverage.

    “We could see tens of millions of people thrown out of coverage,” said Pollitz. “There would be an onslaught of un-insurance.”

    Donald Trump has said he would maintain the protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but has not said how it would replace the existing rules if the ACA was invalidated.

    The supreme court has not scheduled a date for oral arguments in the case, but it is expected to take place in the autumn and a decision would likely not arrive until after the November election.

    In the meantime, doctors are searching for a vaccine for Covid-19, and 124,000 Americans have died from the illness. There has been a new surge in cases in several states, and the nation hit an all-time high of 40,000 recorded cases on Thursday, according to figures released by Johns Hopkins.

    Hours before the Trump administration filed its briefing on Thursday, Joe Biden warned about the government’s assault on the ACA and said: “Most cruelly of all, if Donald Trump has his way, complications from Covid-19 could become a new pre-existing condition.”

    “Some survivors will experience lasting health impacts – like lung scarring and heart damage,” Biden said during a speech in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

    “And if Donald Trump prevails in court, insurers would be allowed to strip away coverage or jack up premiums simply because of their battle with the coronavirus.”