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Thousands of Granite Staters will Reap Benefits of Health Care Reform

May 13, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. - According to a new report released by Families USA, more than 230,000 New Hampshire residents under the age of 65 have what insurance companies deem "diagnosed preexisting conditions." These conditions run the gamut from cancer to diabetes, and are still the basis to be rejected for coverage today.

That's expected to change when the new federal health reform law kicks in, says Stephen Gorin, executive director of the New Hampshire Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

"Without the new law, anyone with a preexisting condition, who isn't insured by an employer, runs the risk of being denied coverage or having to spend more than they can reasonably afford, to buy it."

Beginning this September, the new federal health reform law will prohibit insurance companies from dropping coverage for people when they get sick. There also will be a temporary insurance plan called a "high risk pool" for anyone who is turned down because of a preexisting condition, until permanent pools are put in place.

When it comes to younger adults in New Hampshire, the report shows that one in seven between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosed preexisting health condition. Even without preexisting conditions, it has been difficult for many in that age bracket to obtain insurance in the state, according to Sarah Chaisson Warner with New Hampshire Citizens Alliance.

"Health reform is going to help the parents who have young adult children who, because of the economy, cannot find jobs that will give them health insurance. Now students can stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26."

Beginning in September 2010, children below 19 with such conditions may not be denied access to their parents' plan.

The full report, "Health Reform: a Closer look," is available at www.familiesusa.org.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH