Poll Shows Most Want to Preserve ACA Pre-Existing Condition Protections

Americans may be divided about the value of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but most agree that coverage for pre-existing conditions should be preserved if the legislation is scraped or altered, a new eHealth survey shows.

More than three-quarters (77%) of survey respondents said coverage for pre-existing conditions should be retained if the ACA is overturned. The eHealth survey was conducted in July 2019 and included voluntary responses from more than 800 people who enrolled in ACA individual or family health insurance plans through eHealth.


ACA ruling is coming 

The indications of widespread support for the ACA’s pre-existing condition coverage come as a decision nears in the court challenge, Texas v. The United States, that could result in the elimination or restructuring of the landmark 2010 health care law. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is currently reviewing a 2018 federal trial court ruling that found the ACA was unconstitutional due to Congress’ 2017 decision to eliminate the individual mandate. 

The individual mandate required all Americans to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty. According to the original court decision, Congress removed an “essential” element of the law when it eliminated the penalty and thus invalidated the entire ACA.  The appellate court ruling is expected sometime this fall.


Chronic disease vulnerability

Without protections guaranteeing health insurance coverage for those with pre-existing health conditions, nearly half of Americans could have difficulty finding coverage. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 45% of the U.S. population, or 133 million people, suffer from at least one chronic disease.

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In addition to support for pre-existing condition coverage, a majority of people responding to the eHealth survey also say they believe coverage should be retained for mental health services (65%); maternity care (63%); and birth control (57%). Less than half (47%) said coverage for drug and alcohol treatment was a priority, although 57% supported continuing federal subsidies that lower the cost of health insurance premiums under the ACA.

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