Sebelius: Reform repeal would mean denial of coverage for millions

In an attempt to take some of the steam out of House GOP's largely symbolic vote to repeal the healthcare law tomorrow, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius ratcheted up the administration's PR campaign to fight those who support a repeal of the healthcare reform. Today at a press conference, she trotted out several people who say they have already benefited from the Affordable Care Act.

One was Dawn Josephson. Both she and her husband are self-employed. After her son had surgery for an eye condition called strabismus, however, one insurer dropped the family. Another would not cover her son's condition. The family shopped around for a new plan, but anything related to her son's eye condition was excluded. Because his medical expenses were out-of-pocket, by late spring 2010, Josephson said, "we were being crushed financially."

She looked around again and was on the verge of signing up with an "affordable option plan" with what she called OK coverage. But she still was waiting for the other shoe to drop. When she asked the insurance agent what wasn't covered, she was blown away when she learned that even her son's condition would be covered, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Josephson notes on the blog, "as the new patient protections under health reform began to take effect, we finally had the option of buying affordable health insurance without any exclusions for pre-existing conditions for Wesley."

According to a new HHS report, should reform be turned back, more than one in three Americans under age 64 with a pre-existing condition would be charged more or lose coverage due to that pre-existing condition. Repeal, Sebelius says, would mean insurers could discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions and deny them coverage.

Prior to reform, in most states, insurers in the individual market could deny coverage, charge higher premiums, and/or limit benefits based on pre-existing conditions. About 36 percent of Americans who tried to buy health insurance directly from a payer in the individual insurance market had trouble buying health insurance for those reasons, according to HHS.

To learn more:
- read the new HHS report
- here's the accompanying press release