Pre-existing conditions still a factor for 'Obamacare' until 2014

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Brenda Childress joined thousands of people who logged online to sign up for Covered California on the first day of enrollment, but she was turned down for something she believed was no longer a factor: a pre-existing condition.

"Aggravating, very frustrating," said Childress, who was turned down because her husband received a heart transplant more than five years ago.

One of the biggest reforms as part of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny people coverage if they have pre-existing conditions. However, that portion of the law, like the day that health care actually becomes available, doesn't begin until the calendar turns to 2014.

"Starting Jan. 1, insurance companies must take everyone, guaranteed," said James Scullary, spokesperson for Covered California. "On that date, people can longer be denied because of pre-existing conditions."

"Unfortunately, that rule is not in place right now, and that is one of the beauties of the Affordable Care Act," he added.

Childress, whose husband's work insurance will end at the end of November, is worried about her husband having to go one month without coverage or medication.

"It's aggravating, because I know there are lot of people that need it and can't get it. It really upsets me," she said.