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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Feb. 1-7

This week, readers took issue with our analysis of the Obama administration’s claim about what would happen without the health care law.

In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.


Denial of Coverage

I always enjoy and appreciate your coverage. However, I think that in an effort to be excessively evenhanded, you may have conflated two issues ["Millions with Preexisting Conditions," Feb. 4]. Higher rates are one thing. Exclusion of coverage is an entirely more serious issue — it is "denial of coverage," plain and simple. Any of a wide range of preexisting conditions can be used by the insurer to only offer coverage which excludes that condition. In essence, you are being offered health insurance EXCEPT for the disease most likely to afflict you. So, I would recommend that you group the categories somewhat differently:

a) true insurance offered, albeit at higher rates
b) refusal to offer insurance, whether categorically or for specific common ailments.

The latter category is "denial of coverage."

Garth Fletcher
Mason, N.H.

In your article, you dispute "as the Obama administration claims — that ‘129 million Americans with a pre-existing condition could be denied coverage without new health reform law.’ " Speaking as someone who lost his family’s group health care coverage in 1994 while his wife was dying of cancer, when he was laid off from a 31-year career with Honeywell when the computer business was sold to Groupe Bull, ANYONE COULD be denied health care coverage with catastrophic results.

When you add the number of people who are stuck in dead-end jobs but tied to those jobs by health care, the number who cannot follow their dreams and create new businesses because they are tied to their current jobs by health care, and people like me and my current wife who lost health care when their husbands (me) retired (gave up looking for a job when it appeared the jobs had all gone offshore) and had to go on the individual health care market where they/we can only afford very high deductible policies with exclusions for preexisting conditions, I believe the number is significant. And certainly, for those who suffer under the current health care system, 2014 cannot come soon enough. So I believe that the claim that "129 million Americans with a pre-existing condition could be denied coverage" is entirely accurate.

James F. Sims
Phoenix, Ariz.