Roughly 822,000 South Carolina adults under the age of 65 had preexisting conditions that would have made them uninsurable through pre-Obamacare insurance practices, according to a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Kaiser, and other experts, say the report is timely because of President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Trump did say he wants to continue covering those with preexisting conditions, though he has been critical of most other aspects of Obamacare.
The Kaiser report states there were more than 52 million “nonelderly” Americans with preexisting health conditions, which would have left them uninsurable.
“Our estimates are conservative and do not account for a number of conditions that were often declinable,” Kaiser officials wrote in the report.
Before 2013, an individual could be refused coverage for these conditions if insurers felt it would be too costly to provide services. But the Affordable Care Act changed that, and guaranteed coverage for these individuals.
Bob Hartwig, an insurance specialist and professor at the University of South Carolina, said it’s important to note that 92 percent, or 47.8 million of the 52 million Americans, would still have been able to find affordable care through group health plans.
That leaves just 8 percent who would have been uncovered, which boils down to about 62,000 in the Palmetto State.
“That’s a much smaller number, but it’s still significant,” Hartwig said.
Moving forward, every state will find itself in a situation where it will have people who need coverage, Hartwig said.
“This will probably be one of the most dominant questions in the wake of repeal,” he said.
Even if the repeal process begins on Day 1, Hartwig says it would likely be a couple of years before new laws take effect. In that time span, individual states will need to find ways to cover their residents.
“States will need to manage those individuals with preexisting conditions who are declined,” he said. “It’s a personal issue that shouldn’t be political. Everyone knows someone with a preexisting condition that deserves coverage. And everyone knows they could find themselves in a similar situation.”