As a Canadian, the fact that I have a pre-existing health condition doesn’t affect my ability to access basic healthcare. Our health care system certainly isn’t perfect, but our publicly funded system costs a heck of a lot less than the privatized system in the United States. Unfortunately, things look like they could get a whole lot pricier in the U.S., and if I was an American, I would be getting awfully worried right about now.
The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) prevents insurers from discriminating against or denying coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions, i.e. conditions that the person already had at the time their health benefits took effect. Wikipedia cites a Kaiser Family Foundation figure from 2016 that one quarter of Americans under age 65 had a pre-existing condition. That’s a lot of people.
The great pumpkin and the Republic party want to do away with Obamacare. The chorus of “repeal and replace” seems to have faded away and been replaced with a focus solely on giving Obamacare the heave ho. There are videos of the great pumpkin making pre-election promises not to leave people with pre-existing conditions high and dry, but that ship appears to have sunk.
A couple of months ago, CNN reported that the Trump administration supports a Texas district court judge’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act is invalid, and plans to support that ruling on appeal. Bring on the insanity.
So who is up shit creek if this goes down? A whole lotta people, including people who have mental illness. The most vulnerable people, and the people who are already getting the short end of the stick financially because illness, or the associated stigma and discrimination, gets in the way of working. These are people who are faced with enormous drug costs because their government is too busy blowing sunshine up Big Pharma’s ass to take action on outrageous drug prices in the U.S., which has some of the highest drug prices in the world.
The argument that insurance companies use, while of course not admitting that all they really care about is show me the money, is that by excluding people who would have high health care costs, they’re making insurance more affordable for people using fewer health services. Heck, while they’re at it, they should refuse to offer car insurance to people who actually drive their cars, or refuse to provide house insurance for people who don’t have 24/7 security guards.
It’s not just health insurance that trots out the pre-existing condition pony. The one time I bought travel cancellation insurance, I tried to make a claim, and they denied it for a supposed pre-existing condition, even though at the time I bought the insurance I hadn’t yet been diagnosed with depression. I have never bought trip cancellation insurance again and I never will, because my personal bias is that the whole thing is one big scam.
So here I stand, as a proud Canadian with a pre-existing condition whose government isn’t usually trying to kick me to the curb, and hoping that sanity will somehow prevail and health care systems everywhere won’t discriminate against those who of us who happen to be sick.
Visit the Mental Health @ Home Store to find my books Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis and Psych Meds Made Simple, a mini-ebook collection focused on therapy, and plenty of free downloadable resources.