HB 3924/SB 1973 would make preexisting condition discrimination legal once again for a certain type of health coverage. Nearly 9-in-10 Texans (88%) think health plans should be required to cover people with preexisting conditions, including overwhelming majorities across party lines.
Since 2014, the Affordable Care Act made it illegal for health insurance to discriminate against people with preexisting medical conditions. Insurers can no longer:
- deny coverage to people with a history of illness,
- charge higher rates to people with preexisting conditions, or
- cover the individual, but exclude all health care services related to a preexisting condition either forever or for a defined period of months or years.
HB 3924/SB 1973 deliberately define the new Farm Bureau coverage as not “insurance” in the law, even though it’ll operate just like health insurance. This is all it takes to evade all state and federal laws related to health insurance, including preexisting condition protections enshrined in law. The coverage will also evade both the state and federal prohibitions against surprise medical billing, network adequacy, and many other popular consumer protections.
Five other states have already taken this unwise step, and it is clear that these plans cherry-pick healthy people and discriminate against others with a history of illness or injury (see the table below). Coverage will not be limited to farmers and ranchers. Anyone can join the Farm Bureau by paying an annual membership fee and then apply for the coverage.
Votes taken on these bills may be the first ones taken at the Texas Legislature to reintroduce preexisting condition discrimination since it became illegal in 2014.
Read our full testimony here.