Who could be at risk for higher premiums under GOP health care bill

Winners and losers of the Republican health care bill
Winners and losers of the Republican health care bill

Nearly four million Obamacare consumers could face higher premiums if the House GOP's health care bill is approved by the Senate, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation report.

These enrollees have pre-existing conditions that could leave them paying higher premiums if they let their coverage lapse for 63 days or more and live in states that opt to waive some of Obamacare's protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Under Obamacare, insurers can no longer charge consumers based on their medical histories. The House GOP bill, which was approved and moved to the Senate two weeks ago, would let states jettison that popular provision for people who have a gap in coverage. This has provoked a huge outcry among Americans at town halls and elsewhere.

Related: High-risk pools won't match Obamacare's protections for pre-existing conditions

Just how many people might be subject to the change remains to be seen. It would depend on how many states opt to waive the provision and how many consumers let their coverage lapse.

However, it's likely that more people would be left uninsured under the GOP bill, said Larry Levitt, senior vice president at Kaiser. A Congressional Budget Office review of the original House legislation found that 24 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026.

"With the tax credits being skimpier and Medicaid being rolled back, the number of people having a gap in coverage is sure to increase," he said.

Separately, Kaiser found that 6.3 million consumers with pre-existing conditions had a gap in coverage in 2015. However, many who have gaps in coverage usually wind up with employer-based policies or Medicaid, and therefore, would not be subject to higher premiums because of their health backgrounds.

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