Trump's healthcare bill allows effects of rape to be deemed pre-existing conditions

Domestic abuse survivors and mothers could also see be denied coverage or see their premiums increased under the plan

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The Independent US

When House Republicans passed the American Health Care Act on Thursday, many Americans likely thought of their family and friends living with cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. These diseases are commonly referred to as “pre-existing conditions” – conditions which, under the Republican health care bill, could result in them being denied health insurance.

But another, less publicised group of people were also concerned by the bill's passage: rape survivors.

Before Obamacare, some insurance companies considered rape and domestic abuse pre-existing conditions. One woman, Jody Neal-Post, says she was turned away after telling a potential insurance that she was a domestic violence victim – despite otherwise being perfectly healthy.  

Half of the top 16 insurance companies in the US in 1994 admitted they considered domestic violence in factor in determining premiums, and whether or not to deny someone coverage.

Under Obamacare, that changed: The law prohibited employers from denying coverage or racking up premiums for those with pre-existing conditions. It also prohibited insurers from “gender rating,” or charging more for insurance just for being a woman. The number of uninsured women went from 19 per cent to just 8 per cent after it was passed.

The new American Health Care Act, however, contains an amendment allows states to opt out of protections for pre-existing conditions. That means women like Ms Neal-Post could once again find themselves unable to find coverage.

That same amendment, called the MacAurthur Amendment, states that “nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to discriminate in rates for health insurance coverage by gender.”

But women’s health advocates point out that many different pre-existing conditions – not just rape and domestic abuse – pertain disproportionately to women. Pre-existing conditions cited by insurance companies include postpartum depression, caesarean sections, and prior pregnancies.

“A majority of people who get pregnant identify as women, so that's gender discrimination, straight up," Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper, an Advocacy Fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told ELLE.com.

The AHCA passed the House 217 - 213 on Thursday afternoon, but faces a tough fight to pass the Senate. Appearing in the White House rose garden, Mr Trump – who had promised that pre-existing conditions would be covered by the bill – called it a “great plan.”

“What we have is something very, very incredibly well-crafted,” Mr Trump said. “...This has really brought the Republican Party together."

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