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Poll: Voters Want Protections for People with Pre-Existing Conditions

The rate of uninsured Washingtonians has dropped from 14 percent in 2013 to 5.4 percent in 2018. (DarkoStojanovic/Pixabay)
The rate of uninsured Washingtonians has dropped from 14 percent in 2013 to 5.4 percent in 2018. (DarkoStojanovic/Pixabay)
November 2, 2018

SEATTLE, Wash. – Health care could be one of the biggest deciding factors in this year's election for voters in Washington state and nationwide. According to polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 75 percent of Americans say it's very important the Affordable Care Act's protection for individuals with pre-existing conditions remains law.

Steve Overman, a retired rheumatologist who's now a professor at the University of Washington, says many of his patients wouldn't have been able to afford health coverage if they were blocked because of a pre-existing condition.

"The whole concept of excluding pre-existing conditions runs counter to the entire idea of health insurance,” says Overman. “And most everybody I took care of had a chronic illness, and they would have all been excluded from, let's say, an auto-immune condition such as rheumatoid arthritis."

Nationwide, an estimated 27 percent of Americans ages 18-to-64 have a pre-existing health condition, such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease. Washington state is home to close U.S. House races this election that could decide the balance of power in Congress.

The number of Washingtonians without coverage is nearly a third of what it was before the Affordable Care Act was passed and the state expanded Medicaid. The state's uninsured rate has dropped from 14 percent in 2013 to 5.4 percent this year.

Overman believes health care should be the number one issue on voters' minds.

"It impacts their work, their jobs, their ability to care for their family,” says Overman. “Bankruptcy due to health care, financial issues is huge – and untreated chronic illness is the number one cause for both disability and health-care costs in our current system, for our population."

Kaiser polling shows Americans across the political spectrum support pre-existing condition protections. That includes 86 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of independents and 58 percent of Republicans.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA