The Pre-existing Condition Consideration

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurance companies could charge higher premiums or deny coverage altogether based on an individual’s medical history or health status. The ACA included protections for those with pre-existing health conditions.

Pre-existing conditions differ from insurer to insurer, but they generally designate an individual with a health condition requiring medical treatment or someone who has a greater likelihood of illness and injury due to occupation or lifestyle.

Today, millions of Americans suffer from pre-existing conditions, and based on a recent review from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the most common of those are:

  • High Blood Pressure  :  46 million people
  • Behavioral Health Disorders  :  45 million people
  • High Cholesterol  :  44 million people
  • Asthma/Chronic Lung Disease  :  34 million people
  • Heart Conditions  :  16 million people
  • Diabetes  :  13 million people
  • Cancer  :  11 million people

Pregnancy is also considered a pre-existing condition.

This Kaiser Family Foundation review of pre-ACA medical underwriting also lists occupations ineligible for insurance.

Active military personnel Iron workers Professional athletes
Air traffic controller Law enforcement/detectives Sawmill operators
Aviation and air transportation Loggers Scuba divers
Blasters or explosive handlers Meat packers/processors Security guards
Bodyguards Mining Steel metal workers
Crop dusters Nuclear industry workers Steeplejacks
Firefighters/EMTs Offshore drillers/workers Strong man competitors
Hang gliding Oil and gas exploration and drilling Taxi cab drivers
Hazardous material handlers Pilots Window washers

It’s apparent that some of the individuals previously unable to obtain medical insurance due to pre-existing conditions were children, but how many?

Using a breakdown by the Center for American Progress that summarizes these numbers by age and state, we were able to determine how many children were affected on a state-by-state basis and which states had the highest percentages of children in the population with pre-existing conditions.

Pre-existing conditions

So, when you’re talking about residents of Utah (ranking #1) losing coverage for pre-existing conditions, around 18% of those impacted are kids. But even where the percentage is lowest in Vermont, the under-18 group still adds up to 11% of those that would be impacted.

A removal of these protections has nationwide impact for both adults and children. Of the 134 million individuals under age 65 that could lose coverage, 17.5 million (13%) are under 18.

Pre-existing Conditions - Children

 

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What has the Clean Air Act done for you lately? (The answer: A LOT)

clean-air

1970: Congress passed the Clean Air Act and created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

1990: The Clean Air Act Amendments expanded the original law.

But what does this mean today? What has the Clean Air Act accomplished?

AIR QUALITY

On average, levels of the 6 main tracked air pollutants have decreased. Percentages below reflect 1990 – 2015 change.

  • Particles: Down by 39%
  • Ozone: Down by 22%
  • Lead: Down by 99%
  • Carbon Monoxide: Down by 77%
  • Nitrogen Dioxide: Down by 47%
  • Sulfur Dioxide: Down by 81%

 

HEALTH BENEFITS

A significant number of deaths and a staggering number of illnesses were prevented by the Clean Air Act.

  • Adult Mortality: 160,000 deaths prevented
  • Infant Mortality: 230 deaths prevented
  • Chronic Bronchitis: 54,000 cases prevented
  • Acute Bronchitis: 130,000 cases prevented
  • Asthma Exacerbation: 1,700,000 cases prevented

 

This has substantially increased U.S. worker productivity because 13 million workdays were not lost due to air pollution-influenced afflictions. Using the same formula for monetization of productivity loss detailed in this report by the National Center for Biotechnology Information to capture health-related productivity loss (multiplying the number of days lost by the average hourly wage plus benefits of $29.18 for U.S. civilian workers, using 8 hour days and the cost to an employer multiplier of 1.61), we can see that U.S. employers have saved $4.9 billion.

ECONOMIC IMPACT 

A common objection to environmental regulation is that it hurts the economy. Despite the savings just identified, we can also see that the overall GPA did not decline during the time period when EPA enforcement of the Clean Air Act improved air quality and decreased pollutant emissions. (Source: epa.gov)

growthandemissions

ARE WE DONE? 

While the average air quality has drastically improved, there are still many counties where air quality is abysmal. The EPA estimates 127 million people live in counties with ground ozone levels above the national standard.

 

Are you interested in more information? The EPA has some fascinating tools and data.

Take a look at the Air Quality Index.

Compare your city to others.

Check out the monitors that collect air quality data.

Review air emissions inventories. 

 

 

 

 

Additional Sources

Air Quality – National Summary

Status and Trends of Key Air Pollutants

Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act 1990 – 2020, the Second Prospective Study

Recovered Endangered Species

There are currently over 1400 animals listed as Threatened or Endangered at ECOS, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Environmental Conservation Online System.

Since the passing of the 1973 U. S. Endangered Species Act, with regulation, public education, and intervention efforts by conservationists, 47 species have recovered enough to be removed from the listing. Without those efforts, the following 11 species would most likely be extinct.

animals-saved

 

Sources:

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

7 Animals Saved from Near-Extinction

Animals Saved by the US Endangered Species Act

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Recovery Plan for the Steller Sea Lion

 

 

 

Corporation for Public Broadcasting: So Much More Than Sesame Street

Suggestions run rampant that the Trump administration would cut federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). This measure would have to be approved by Congress.

The CPB isn’t just an incubator for high-quality educational programming. Rather, it’s an important network providing the only source of broadcast information for many rural listeners.

cpb-whats-at-stake

Sources:

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Alternative Sources of Funding for Public Broadcasting Stations

Defense Department spends $500 million to strike up the bands

Trump’s Team Said to Be Planning to Privatize Public Broadcasting

Trump reportedly wants to cut cultural programs that make up 0.02 percent of federal spending

Trump Team Suggests Cuts to Corporation for Public Broadcasting Funding. That would affect more than NPR.

New House Rules Ease Sale of Federal Land

Yosemite National Park photo credit to National Park Service

land-management-whats-at-stake

On Tuesday, January 3, 2017, this provision was approved by the House. Previously, Congress would have had to account for the cost of a land transfer from the Federal government to State governments in the budget. Now, these lands effectively have no value, and that makes them easier to transfer to states. Should these national treasures be managed at the local level? Or maintained nationally for the good of all Americans?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Read more.

Bill text

Federal land acreage by state

Largest National Wildlife Refuges

Largest National Parks

Quotes