"We have long agreed that the individual insurance market needs to be reformed, but this report significantly exaggerates the number of people whose coverage is impacted by pre-existing conditions," said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans.
Zirkelbach said the report fails to note that most Americans get their healthcare coverage from their employers. That coverage does not take into account pre-existing conditions. In addition, he said that nine in 10 people who apply for coverage in the individual market are offered a policy, and that "many others" are eligible for public plans such as Medicaid.
The House vote is viewed largely as a symbolic gesture by Republicans, who made repeal of the healthcare reforms a central issue of the November election that won them the House majority. Democrats remain in control of the Senate, however, and have said they will not consider repeal. In addition, President Obama has threatened to veto any repeal bill in the unlikely chance that it reaches his desk.
The HHS report said that anywhere from 50 million to 129 million (19% to 50%) of Americans under age 65 have some type of pre-existing condition, including heart disease, cancer, asthma, high blood pressure, and arthritis. Americans between ages 55 and 64 are at particular risk, with 48% to 86% of people in that age bracket living with a pre-existing condition. In addition, the report projected that 15% to 30% of people under age 65 in good health today are likely to develop a pre-existing condition over the next eight years. As many as 25 million people under age 65 with a pre-existing condition are uninsured, HHS said.