WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Supreme Court’s upholding of the Affordable Care Act will provide significant new protections for a huge number of Nevadans, including more than 527,000 non-elderly people in the state who have pre-existing health conditions and were at risk of insurance company coverage denials.
These Nevadans constitute nearly one in four, or 22.8 percent, of non-elderly people in the state.
This is the key finding of a report issued today by the consumer health group Families USA. According to the report, the number of people receiving these new protections includes 371,800 people in Clark County and 85,800 people in Washoe County.
Under the Affordable Care Act, all of these Nevadans can no longer be denied coverage, charged a higher premium or sold a policy that excludes coverage of important health services simply because of a pre-existing condition. These protections begin in January 2014, but children with pre-existing conditions are already protected through the new law against coverage denials.
The likelihood that a Nevadan has a pre-existing condition grows as they age: just over one in six, or 16.8 percent, people aged 18 to 24 have a pre-existing condition; more than a quarter of, or 28.5 percent, of 35-44 year olds have such a condition; as do nearly half, or 45.6 percent, of those 55-64 years old.
The report details the health and financial risks that people face when they can’t obtain health coverage: They delay or forgo care due to cost, and they are less likely to get preventive care and cancer screenings. They are also less likely to have a usual source of care outside of an emergency room. And, because medical debt is strongly linked to bankruptcy, uninsured Americans are more likely to suffer financial catastrophe because of medical bills.
According to Families USA, the numbers depicted in the report are conservative for two reasons. First, the analysis only looks at people with diagnosed conditions that are most likely to result in a denial of coverage; many other conditions could also lead to a denial of coverage or a discriminatory premium. Second, many more Nevadans likely have similar health conditions, but they have not yet been diagnosed because they are uninsured and didn’t see a doctor.
A copy of the Families USA report, “Worry No More: Nevadans with Pre-Existing Conditions Are Protected By the Health Care Law,” is available at http://familiesusa2.org/assets/pdfs/pre-existing-conditions/Nevada.pdf.