WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today released figures highlighting the more than 2.5 million consumers in Maryland with pre-existing conditions who, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will be protected from discrimination by insurance companies based on their health status. Beginning January 1, 2014, because of the health care law, insurance companies will be prohibited from denying health coverage for the up to 129 million Americans – including up to 2,543,000 1 in Maryland – with pre-existing conditions such as cancer, asthma, diabetes, or seemingly minor issues like back problems or allergies. Insurance companies also will no longer be able to charge higher premiums based on health status or history. Since 2010, the Affordable Care Act has prohibited insurance companies from denying coverage to the up to 17 million children with pre-existing conditions – including up to 320,000 in Maryland.
“Better, more affordable coverage is finally going to be available to the million Americans with pre-existing conditions. For years, constituents have complained to me that they have been blocked from taking better jobs or trapped in subpar policies because they feared a minor pre-existing condition would keep them from getting new coverage. No longer will they be at the mercy of insurance companies that care more about profits than people,” said Senator Cardin. “The fundamentals of the Affordable Care Act continue to pay dividends for Marylanders, including providing access to preventive and lifesaving health services that will help them stay healthy and avoid more serious medical complications.”
The ACA contains several patient-friendly protections that Senator Cardin championed, including: universal dental coverage for children; a guarantee of patients’ rights, including access to emergency medical services; patient choice of primary care providers and pediatricians; and direct access to ob/gyns for women. He also fought for the elimination of copays and deductibles for Medicare preventive services and secured the establishment of the HHS Offices of Minority Health and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health.