March 10th, 2009
05:08 PM ET

Pre-existing conditions reform

Editor's Note: In 44 states, it's legal for health insurers to deny coverage to people who have previously been sick, or charge them more for treatment. Even a surgery that happened a decade ago could count.

Now, President Obama wants to require that health insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions. Here is Dr. Sanjay Gupta's report on how the issue affects people - like Jim Matthews.

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Zoey

    As someone who was born with a "pre-existing condition" I understand how hard it can be to get coverage. Luckily, my condition isn't life threatening (I'm deaf) but it is enough to make it nearly impossible for me to have reasonable health care. For many people, technology exists which could save their lives, yet they can't access it because the insurance won't pay. To me, that is no less than negligent homicide.

    March 11, 2009 at 2:07 am |
  2. Tom from Philly

    I am all about the free market and what it has to offer, but when denying access to life saving treatment is business loss prevention, then we took it to far, nuff said

    March 10, 2009 at 9:21 pm |
  3. JR Miami, FL

    Pre-existing conditions are just wrong! Health insurance is supposed to take care of your illnesses, not exclude them.

    There was a time health insurance coverage was based on keeping you well instead of keeping you out based on your medical conditions. Insurers should cover regardless of any diseases present like they used to do. This is hardly a new concept.

    Anything you have in your medical records can be used against you as a pre-existing condition. As genetic genomics comes into vogue, insurance companies will use this against you as an early predictor of disease.

    Why would you need health insurance, if you were disease free without any genetic predispositions?

    March 10, 2009 at 9:00 pm |
  4. Dr Abbas WI

    Please correct spelling last line "substance"

    March 10, 2009 at 8:46 pm |
  5. Dr Abbas WI

    Preexisting conditions must be covered as long as they are the result of act of nature and beyond patient's control. However, there should be reasonable cap on coverage if it is the result of patient's unhealthy life style such as smoking, subatance and alcohol use and medical non compliance.

    March 10, 2009 at 8:42 pm |
  6. Annie Kate

    I know a lot of people who would like to switch jobs but can't because of their pre-existing conditions on their health. Sometimes it seems health insurance charges you a lot for practically no coverage at all. I hope this and a lot of other things can be fixed with the health care reform Obama is planning to do.

    March 10, 2009 at 7:57 pm |
  7. Larry

    What can insurance companies do about pre-existing mental illnesses, unless they spread the premiums around to all their health care clients.

    Sometimes the generic version of a drug is just as expensive as the brand name version.

    Should heath insurance cover stem cell treatments, especially if you want a stem cell treatment for cosmetic reasons?

    March 10, 2009 at 7:50 pm |
  8. Mari, Salt Lake City

    @ Cindy GA........... "these people"....... For your information, MANY folks with pre-existing conditions were born this way.

    Our son has had asthma since he was a baby! He is now employed, a college grad and earns enough to pay for insurance.

    ITS CRIMINAL....... for insurance companies to deny coverage to people who are sick through NO FAULT of their own.

    Its about time the government steps in, and sets them straight.

    Also, every 30 seconds an American is bankrupted by medical bills. That is a tragedy in the so-called-most-powerful-and-wealthiest nation of earth!

    March 10, 2009 at 7:37 pm |
  9. Timothy Gibson

    Back in the early 90's I took part in a vaccine trial, being one who got the sugar water and the trial proved to be of no use for this condition. Then when I became insured and attempted to use my cover I was told it was denied as a pre-existing condition because I had received treatment, with the insurance company calling sugar water treatment, and being part of a drug trial treatment. I received no treatment what so ever in giving of my time in hopes to finding a cure for a wide spread disease. It took 11 months and ended only after I spoke with an attorney who told me what to write in my letter, word for word, and then the insurance company backed down and permitted treatment with coverage.

    Insurance coverage comes at a premium, not to mention the cost after the insurance pays their share. It is beyond belief what a doctor will charge for an office visit such as the one I had last year for a disk problem in my neck, my share, over $800 for a simple office visit, no physical contact, and very little talk.

    Yes, insurance companies are in it to make money, but when they have to pay a portion of their profit out they whimper and whine like the wall street bookies. It is about time someone stopped their abuse of power over us.

    March 10, 2009 at 7:13 pm |
  10. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    Pre-existing condition-another way for insurance companies to say screw you if you really need help with your healthcare. I can't begin to tell you how much my parents paid in insurance because my mom was a juvenile diabetic. Or how much we paid out of pocket when she became seriously ill. Here's the deal. Don't just blame insurance companies and what they charge patients. Blame them for the asinine amount they charge in malpractice coverage for docs. Blame hospitals and docs who charge outrageous prices to patients for everything from band-aids to surgery hours. Blame drug companies who charge ridiculous amounts for meds that are dirt cheap in generic forms. And blame the med schools that put MD's in heinous amounts of debt before they ever start their practices forcing them to charge surreal amounts just to pay off bills, run their practices, pay the ludicrous charges for malpractice insurance, and keep themselves afloat. It is one really cruel and crazy cycle.

    I'm all for change. But let's get it all changed. The healthcare disaster is multi-faceted. It all has to be overhauled. Dumping pre-existing conditions is a good start. It's just that, though, a very feeble start.

    March 10, 2009 at 6:56 pm |
  11. Teresa

    @JOY: so true: re: "then try to refuse to pay our medical bills whenever possible" Seriously, I wonder what the number is of deaths for people who HAD coverage and the co's refused to pay for their treatment?

    March 10, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  12. Mike, Zephyrhills, FL

    Its time for insurance companies to just go away!!

    We pay more and get less every year we have private insurance! Its profit vs care!

    So why would be the worse for having a National Health Care Plan?

    and yes i dont care if you do call it socialism!! Its the right thing to do!

    We really pay for it now in many different ways, Medicare, Medicaid, copays, paying bills other dont pay, subsidized research and medical programs, state taxes, 60% of car insurance is to cover liablility, Frivilous Lawsuits, every ad on TV now a lawyer wanting to sue!!
    Its time for a Single Payor System!!

    March 10, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  13. Joy in Seattle

    Hey, something I can actually agree with Obama on!

    Health "insurance" is a misnomer. 100% of us will need health care for something in the near future. Our employers and us pay good money to insure that we get treatment. Meanwhile, the insurance companies take a hefty portion of that money and then try to refuse to pay our medical bills whenever possible. These companies are merely taking advantage of our need for health care. It isn't right.

    March 10, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
  14. Cindy

    Getting insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions is going to be pretty hard to do unless there is really something in it for them that they can't pass up! These people more times than not cost the companies mega bucks. I don't see them just willingly deciding to take these people on with nothing in it for them. After all they are in it to make money not lose it!


    March 10, 2009 at 5:39 pm |