Thursday, August 20, 2009

Health Care Reform and Pre-existing Conditions by Lara Sokoloff

I was listening to one of President Barack Obama's town hall meetings about health care reform on the radio the other day.

This topic is near and dear to my heart. My son is almost three and has multiple developmental delays. He doesn't crawl, walk, talk or chew very well. My son, with his special needs, has to see a lot of specialists We currently have a specially designed stroller that luckily our insurance paid for. Eventually, we will probably need to get him a wheelchair.

My family and I are fortunate because we currently have good coverage, but we live in constant fear of either being dropped because of our son’s pre-existing condition, or losing our insurance entirely (because of job loss), and then being unable to obtain other coverage because of his pre-existing condition.

At this point I, personally, do not really need to worry about health care. For all our financial misfortunes over the years, as a family we have been fortunate enough to have good coverage. Not a so-called "Cadillac" plan, but good enough--maybe more of a "Dodge" plan. We have had a majority of our health care bills taken care of and we have been able to stay out of debt. God willing we will be able to keep this up. However, should my husband lose his job or one of us (god forbid) have a lengthy stay in the hospital then we are done--bankrupt and severely in debt. I suspect that is the truth for many Americans.

. I cannot see into the future. The President’s plan “would require insurance companies to cover all pre-existing conditions so all Americans, regardless of their health status or history, can get comprehensive benefits at fair and stable premiums." I am all for any reform that allows for health care to cover these pre-existing conditions, for without this kind of
Government-mandated coverage for pre-existing conditions, I worry that if my husband or I were to get another job someday with different health insurance benefits, they would look at our son with his underlying health problems and deny him coverage. What would we do then?

I am very concerned that whatever health care "reform" bill makes it through Congress will not include mandated coverage for him. Right now there are several thousand lobbyists working hard to get their own interests and ideas into the various bills under consideration. Come fall, or whenever the congressional staff goes back to work, the bill that may or may not be passed will be so watered down that maybe if we are lucky, some families will have some benefit from it—and who knows whether one of those families will be mine. I worry most of all that, no matter how hard my husband and I work, we will not be able to afford to give our son the health care he needs.

I know that no country has perfect health care, including this one. We may think we do but we don't. How can we when there are literally millions of families and children without any health coverage? How can we when hardworking families can go into debt just by getting sick? In a perfect health care system, this wouldn't happen. Based on my own experience, I believe we need true reform. Call the President’s plan socialism if you want to, but I would just label it as fair.

1 comment:

  1. Lara,

    I'm rooting for you. If there's one thing I think we can be hopeful will pass, it is the provision on non-discrimination for pre-existing conditions. How it will be implemented is another question, of course.

    You are absolutely right and very understated in your conclusion: when hard working families end up being denied health coverage for matters beyond their control, the health care system is not perfect. I would, in fact, call it an outrage.



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