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Trump promises to protect sick Americans; does his new order do that?

By Noam N. Levey, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON - Less than six weeks before Election Day, President Donald Trump traveled to North Carolina on Thursday to announce his commitment to protecting Americans with preexisting medical conditions and to issue another round of executive orders related to health care.

"We are delivering better care, with more choice, at a much lower cost and working to ensure Americans have access to the care they need," Trump told supporters in Charlotte, saying his plan "always protects patients with preexisting conditions."

But it remains unclear what kind of protections Americans may receive. Here's a rundown of what the president's words really mean for Americans with preexisting medical conditions.

Q: Why are preexisting conditions such a big deal?

A: Before the advent of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, health insurers would routinely refuse coverage to people who had preexisting medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer or allergies.

Even pregnancy could be deemed a preexisting condition that an insurer could refuse to cover.


The health care law, often called Obamacare, barred insurers from this kind of discrimination, protecting the millions of Americans who live with medical conditions.

According to one estimate by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, about a quarter of non-elderly adults have a health condition that an insurer could decline to cover, if that were still allowed.

And nearly half of non-elderly families in the U.S. have at least one member with a health condition that could provide the basis for denying coverage, according to the foundation.

Q: If Americans are already protected by Obamacare, why is Trump announcing an executive order on preexisting conditions?


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