Once upon a time, there was a land where doctors visited the homestead, making rounds through the countryside, and you could pay for health care with chickens and jars of honey. That is no longer the case. Health care is expensive and can land you in debt, and for years it was only slightly better when you had insurance--especially if you had a pre-existing condition.
Affordable Care Act
Your pre-existing conditions can no longer affect your health care coverage. With the passing of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, it’s no longer legal for health insurance companies to refuse coverage or charge more for coverage when a person has a “pre-existing condition.” Before 2014, if you had a health problem diagnosed, then lost insurance coverage, it could be difficult or impossible to find affordable coverage again. Today, everyone has access to health coverage through the Insurance Marketplace no matter what types of conditions they have and no matter how long they’ve gone uncovered.
There is an exception to every rule, and grandfathered individual health insurance policies created before March 23, 2010 are an exception to the ACA regulations. These types of plans were purchased through insurance companies and brokers before the Insurance Marketplace. The plans may not qualify as grandfathered once major changes have been made or the policy is dropped or ended. Consumers can wait until coverage changes and find a new policy through the Affordable Care Act, where pre-existing conditions won’t affect coverage. If you’re unhappy with your coverage, you can also opt to purchase a new policy due to a qualifying life event.
When you see a new doctor, make sure you discuss any pre-existing conditions with him or her. The most common pre-existing conditions are acne, anxiety, diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, depression, COPD, extreme obesity, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Others include heart disease, kidney disease, and arthritis.
Pre-existing conditions can affect:
- What type of medications you can take
- What type of exercise you can do, intensity, and how often
- Recommended nutrition
- Form of treatment
Your doctor may not be able to plan a standard procedure for you with a pre-existing condition. Even something as common as a colonoscopy can become complicated when you have diet-controlled diabetes. Your physician may choose a different route for weight loss and management if you have a condition that limits physical movement. If you don’t disclose all pre-existing conditions and current medications to your physician, it can result in a health emergency or make treatment unsuccessful.
Make sure you have your own medical records. Today private and public practices have online profiles where patients can maintain their own records, update symptoms, health information, medication lists, and more. If your primary care physician doesn’t have this type of program, make sure you keep the records they give you at the end of the appointment. Taking charge of your health care is the best thing you can do for your present, and your future--especially if you have pre-existing conditions.