The Tri-Cities in Northeast Tennessee have the country's highest rates of pre-existing conditions, according to an analysis of metro areas by the Kaiser Family Foundation. More than four-in-ten adults — 41 percent — have a condition that could have precluded them from buying health insurance prior to the Affordable Care Act.
The Nashville area has the state's lowest rate of pre-existing conditions, which is based on data from 2015 collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 27 percent of residents — on par with the national average — have a condition ranging from obesity to sleep apnea. Knoxville and Memphis are slightly higher at 30 percent.
The KFF map does not drill down to reveal unique factors for each region, but Northeast Tennessee has been a hot bed of opioid use. And drug abuse or recent treatment is considered a pre-existing condition.
There was talk of rolling back the ACA's protections for pre-existing conditions as part of Congress's failed repeal efforts. But the Trump administration has also discussed making regulatory changes as well, and recent refusals to defend the ACA against court challenges could diminish the cornerstone of the 2010 health care law. Also, newly expanded short-term health plans do not require coverage for pre-existing conditions.