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Pre-existing Health Conditions Afflict Half of All Americans

January 18, 2011

Americans living with pre-existing conditions are being freed from discrimination in order to get the health coverage they need, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement released Tuesday.

As many as 129 million Americans under age 65 have medical problems putting them at risk of being rejected by insurance companies or having to pay more for coverage, according to the HHS study.

The study also found that one-fifth to one-half of non-elderly people in the United States have conditions that trigger rejection or higher prices in the individual insurance market, the Washington Post reports. They range from cancer to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, asthma and high blood pressure.

The Department of Health and Human Services released the study on Tuesday. The House of Representatives is also expected to begin considering a Republican bill to repeal President Barack Obama’s healthcare overall today.

The report is part of the Obama administration’s effort to convince the public of the advantages of the law, which contains insurance protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

A Republican House aide, speaking on condition of anonymity because the report was not yet public, told the Post: “When a new analysis is released on the eve of a vote in Congress, it’s hard to view it as anything but politics and public relations.”

Despite a likely killing of the bill by the Democrat-controlled Senate, Republicans have promised a repeal vote to fulfill a campaign promise of Republicans who won control of the House in November elections.

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