Pre-existing health conditions
Prior to health care reform, a health insurance company could charge you more, deny you coverage or exclude condition-specific benefits if you had a life-threatening or chronic health condition. While an estimated 220,000 Americans who could afford it obtained alternate coverage through the high-priced "high risk" pools operating in 35 states, roughly 25 million with pre-existing conditions -- or 1 in 5 of all nonelderly Americans with health issues -- were uninsured. Only a handful of states had "guaranteed issue" laws prohibiting insurers from discriminating against those with medical problems.
Beginning in 2014, no insurer can charge you more or deny you coverage based on your current health or a pre-existing condition. The provision went into effect for children younger than 19 on Sept. 23, 2010.
"This was huge," Chollet says. "Now they can't set rates on health status at all, and they have to cover the whole person."
Chollet says baby boomers in particular should give this provision a "standing O."
"They're the ones that get denied, and they're the ones that can afford these high-priced high risk policies, but a lot of people were being left out in the cold on the basis of cost," she says.