HHS report: Up to 129 million with pre-existing condition

Up to 129 million individuals under 65 have a pre-existing condition, according to a new Obama administration report published on the eve of a Republican vote to repeal the healthcare reform law.

Between 50 million and 129 million (19 to 50 percent) of non-elderly Americans have a form of pre-existing condition, and up to 20 percent of those people do not have insurance, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) first attempt to quantify the prevelance of pre-existing conditions.

The report, published Tuesday morning, highlights a key element of the healthcare reform package — in 2014, individuals with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage or charged higher rates on account of their condition.

Up to 82 million individuals with employer-based insurance have a pre-existing condition, the report says. If the reform law is repealed, those individuals may have trouble obtaining insurance if they switch jobs, become self-employed or have other life circumstances change, the report warns. 

With Republicans eyeing a Wednesday vote to repeal the reform law, Democrats are mounting a defense of the healthcare overhaul by highlighting its numerous consumer protections.

On Thursday, House Republicans are set to vote on a resolution that instructs key committees to propose “common-sense” solutions to replace elements of the reform law. 

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will speak about the report on a conference call Tuesday morning.