This week, I received an email from the Illinois Campaign for Better Health Care. The email went out to the organization's entire subscription list, thanking the community for its work to help pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or federal health care reform. A significant piece of the legislation that Little People of America supported was the guarantee that people with pre-existing conditions (like dwarfism) would not be denied coverage. Under the new legislation, starting in January of 2014, it will be illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage based upon pre-existing conditions. This is important for the dwarfism community because many people have been denied health care because of their disability. As a member of the board of directors of LPA, receiving an email or a phone call from a member or a parent of a little person who was denied coverage was very frustrating because there were no good answers. Sometimes the only help LPA could offer was a letter of support to the insurance company, urging it to offer coverage to the person it had recently denied.
Hopefully, with the passage of health care reform, there will be better answers. Though the pre-existing section of health care reform doesn't take affect until 2014, starting September 1 of this year, at least in Illinois (and I hope other states) there is what is called the federally-funded temporary high risk pool. According to the website (people from Illinois can apply for coverage on this website), "the federally-funded high risk pool will provide transitional coverage to 2014 for the currently uninsured with preexisting conditions."
Though health care reform, especially the pre-existing conditions part, is promising for people with dwarfism, there is still concern that insurance companies will find some sort of loophole to deny coverage or will charge unaffordable premiums. I have no information that proves this won't happen, but at least, for now, people with dwarfism and other types of pre-existing conditions have a legal and a legitimate tool with which to work.