How the Repeal of the Affordable Care Act Would Affect Children With Food Allergies

How the Repeal of the Affordable Care Act Would Affect Children With Food Allergies

If you have food allergies or your child has food allergies, I bet the biggest worry on your mind each day is anaphylaxis.

No matter how they vote or who they like to watch on TV, all food allergy parents or sufferers fear anaphylaxis.

Why? Because it’s deadly. Fatal. And it can kill fast.

Fortunately, the only thing needed to prevent this tragic outcome is epinephrine. And to make it even more likely that our children get the right dose at the right time, epinephrine is conveniently packaged in an auto-injector that anyone, even a child struggling to breathe, can use.

Once epinephrine is used to stop anaphylaxis in its tracks, a visit to the emergency room is always recommended because additional care may be required.

But epinephrine itself can be very expensive, and emergency room visits are staggeringly so.

What would you do if you didn’t have insurance?

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), colloquially known as Obamacare, there is one key provision that should be of particular interest to anyone with life-threatening food allergies.

ACA Makes Pre-Existing Conditions a Thing of the Past

The ACA prevents insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Now, it would be a pretty low move to deny coverage for a life-threatening condition, but before the ACA was enacted, insurance companies did it all the time. If you might need to visit the emergency room or need expensive medication and medical care, covering your healthcare was deemed “too risky” by the insurance companies.

They didn’t care whether you or your child lived or died. They cared about their bottom line. They gambled with every insurance application, deciding whether they would get more money from the payer or whether they would spend more money for the payer.

And yes, children under the age of 19 were frequently denied health insurance for pre-existing conditions before the ACA. Approximately 20 million children, in fact.

Fortunately, denying anyone coverage for a pre-existing condition has been a thing of the past for the last few years. But talks of repealing the ACA with no viable alternative mean we could be right back where we started.

On a related note, the ACA also prevents insurance companies from charging exorbitant prices to people with pre-existing conditions.

ACA Could Be Even Better

President Trump’s first executive order involved repealing the Affordable Care Act. This sends a signal to everyone in the country that, just like the insurance companies did for years, he cares more about the bottom line than about whether or not people with pre-existing conditions live or die.

That could mean you or your child.

The ACA is the result of many years of negotiations and compromises. And when it comes to food allergies, it actually falls short. Instead of doing away with the ACA altogether, especially since there is no alternative plan other than to save your own money for your own health care expenses if you can’t afford private insurance (never mind that emergency room visits can run in the tens of thousands of dollars per day), why not make it even better?

For example, there are 26 preventative measures for children that are complete free under the ACA. But allergy testing isn’t one of them. This means that if you are struggling financially, you’ll likely find out that your child has a life-threatening food allergy the old-fashioned way: with a trip to the emergency room if you are lucky, or with a trip to the funeral home if you are not.

Is there any other reason to repeal the ACA that trumps (no pun intended) the balance of life or death for a child? If the ACA is to truly be repealed, let’s insist it is replaced with policies that continue protect people with food allergies and other life-threatening or pre-existing conditions.

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