Here's a harbinger for what's to come should the Trump administration prevail in its efforts to get the Supreme Court to throw out the entirety of the Affordable Care Act: The Pentagon has decided that coronavirus is a preexisting condition and will reject recruits who've recovered from it.
"During the medical history interview or examination, a history of COVID-19, confirmed by either a laboratory test or a clinician diagnosis, is permanently disqualifying," a memo from the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPCOM) that was leaked on social media Thursday states. The Pentagon has confirmed that this will be recruitment policy going forward with numerous outlets, including Military Times.
The Defense Department will require all military entrance processing stations (MEPS) to screen recruits by taking their temperatures and asking them about symptoms and any potential contact with someone who's had the virus. If an applicant fails that first screening, they can return two weeks later if they're symptom-free and try again. But a confirmed diagnosis will be marked as "permanently disqualifying." Someone who's recovered from the novel coronavirus could theoretically receive a waiver, which are allowed for all permanently disqualifying conditions, but the guidance provided so far to the MEPS doesn't allow for it in the case of COVID-19.
The potential concerns for someone who's had this illness include possible permanent respiratory damage and the possibility of relapse. There is also the possibility that having and recovering from the virus doesn't make someone immune, and possibly makes them more susceptible to reinfection. These are valid concerns for the military at this early stage of the illness in the population when researchers and medical professionals have an incomplete picture of what the virus does to a body.
The larger concern for the entire body populace right now—beyond just trying to stay safe and uninfected—is whether insurance companies will be unfettered by the Supreme Court and allowed to use preexisting conditions to ban coverage once again. Here's the precedent to do that for the 1.2 million and counting people who've contracted the virus so far: the U.S. Department of Defense.