Policy Watch

Quick-hitting policy analysis, polling, and updates on the key issues facing the country in 2020.

Is COVID-19 a Pre-Existing Condition? What Could Happen if the ACA is Overturned

If the ACA is overturned, federal law protection for people with pre-existing health conditions would end.  This post examines what that could mean for people in the time of COVID-19, including whether and how insurers could deny coverage to people who have had COVID or other pre-existing conditions.

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Drew Altman: Drugs Aren’t the Reason the U.S. Spends So Much on Health Care

Drew Altman’s column in Axios: the U.S. now spends twice per capita what other wealthy countries do on health care. But while drug costs get all the time in public debate, it’s hospital and outpatient spending that mostly explains the difference. And that will be impossible to take on without real pain and political risk, he says.

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Return of Health Discrimination to Insurance Markets Could Affect Millions of People

With the Trump administration’s challenge to invalidate the Affordable Care Act (ACA) having moved to the Supreme Court in the midst of nomination fight, there has been a renewed focus on the number of people with pre-existing health conditions and how they might be treated in health insurance markets if the administration’s arguments prevail.

Prior to the ACA, people with pre-existing health conditions could be denied coverage or charged higher premiums if they sought coverage outside of their workplace, and small employers could be charged much higher premiums if their workers or their family members had or developed serious or chronic health conditions.

If the law is overturned, these practices may return. A substantial share of non-elderly adults have pre-existing health conditions that would see them declined for coverage under pre-ACA medical screening rules in the non-group market. In a previous study, we found that 27% of non-elderly adults, almost 54 million people, had a declinable pre-existing medical condition in 2018. Some groups are at higher risk; for example:

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This Week in Coronavirus: September 18 to September 24

During the 36th week since the first coronavirus case appeared in the United States, worldwide cases surpassed the 32 million mark and United States’ cases approach acumulative total of 7 million and surpassed 200,000 deaths.

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This Week in Coronavirus: September 11 to September 17

During the 35th week since the first coronavirus case appeared in the United States, worldwide cases surpassed the 30 million mark and United States’ cases have reached a cumulative total of over 6 million and surpassed 197,000 deaths.

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What We Do and Don’t Know About Recent Trends in Health Insurance Coverage in the US

The release of the Census Bureau’s annual health insurance estimates for 2019 highlighted the challenges posed by the lag in data on insurance coverage given the unprecedented social and economic changes that have occurred since the 2019 data were collected. This post discusses trends in insurance coverage leading up to the start of the pandemic and what we know about more recent changes in coverage.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.