In recent days, the conversation surrounding the Republican health care bill has focused on one upsetting fact: If the American Health Care Act (AHCA) becomes the law of the land, sexual assault and domestic violence could be considered preexisting conditions by insurance companies. Really.
Now that the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill, it's worth explaining why this could be a possibility in the near future. You probably know by now that the purpose of this bill is to eliminate many parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most commonly known as Obamacare. And one of the key Obamacare reforms that will change if the AHCA becomes law is the issue of preexisting conditions.
Before the ACA was passed by the Obama administration, insurance companies could make people pay more money for their health care plan or straight-up deny them policies depending solely on their health history, a.k.a their "preexisting conditions." Some of the things that could fall under this category included serious illnesses like cancer, diabetes, or heart disease, but it also even included things like being pregnant or being transgender.
The reason why there was such a big pool of things that could be taken into account when calculating how much a person should pay for insurance is because of how much the medical treatments would cost for each one. And that's why some insurers could add sexual assault and domestic violence to their list of preexisting conditions if they wanted to.
Think of all the medical treatments that sexual assault and domestic violence survivors could potentially undergo: emergency room visits, rape kits, mental health treatment, and medication, among other things. In the eyes of insurance companies, these costs would make survivors a liability. Therefore, they should shell more money out to obtain coverage.
And we're not talking about it in theory. There have been many documented cases of women who were denied health coverage even when they are otherwise healthy just because they revealed they had been in an abusive relationship or had been raped.
Under Obamacare, insurance companies were forbidden from using preexisting conditions as an excuse to charge more money or deny coverage to the most vulnerable members of our society. If the Republican health care bill is passed in the Senate and afterwards is signed into law by President Trump, it would technically not be "unfair" for someone's health history to be fair game for insurers. What it would be is undeniably cruel.