It was back in 2007. I had been involved in legislative advocacy for people with bleeding disorders. We were enjoying a new season of success in advancing bipartisan support for common sense ideas to help Americans with expensive chronic illnesses. Legislation prohibiting a maximum lifetime cap in health insurance was one of our biggest targets ahead of the presidential election.
The Birth of Obamacare
Then in a flurry of activity, lawmakers hurriedly passed and President Obama quickly signed into law The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on March 23, 2010. Remember Nancy Pelosi’s comment, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it away from the fog of the controversy”? We learned the lifetime cap issue we had been fighting against was handily addressed in that new law. Pre-existing condition clauses common to health insurance policies were also put to death with the new law.
If those 2 components alone had been handled in a bipartisan way, I believe most of the concerns of the uninsured would have been served. We had been coming to a consensus about these things prior to the new president even taking office. And we all know that national unity is something we aspire to, no matter what our worldview may be. So with unity of purpose was working as it was, the speedy and unilateral passage of the ACA was dispiriting to me.
The Birth of Repeal and Replace
It didn’t take more than 6 years into the new health care law for the flawed pieces of it to become painfully apparent to the masses. The individual mandate and skyrocketing rates all exposed the problems that opponents had warned of ahead of its passage. Fewer choices of providers, plans, and medications made the law quickly fall out of favor with the vast majority of citizens.
With election season in full swing, the challenges of Obamacare made for great campaign rhetoric. Donald Trump’s promise to repeal and replace the existing law, helped catapult him to a surprising presidential win. American voters wanted a change.
Once his win was secured, Trump moved with speed equal to the Obamacare passage to prepare for that change. Much discussion has taken place with congressional leaders and nominated cabinet members attempting to concoct a remedy to this issue. To date, Trump has expressed interest in keeping coverage for those with pre-existing conditions as well as allowing kids to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26. While good, this still leaves one major concern unaddressed.
The Missing Piece
See that little boy with the vial and syringe at the top of this article? That’s my son. The medication in his hand is worth at least $1,000. He needs an intravenous infusion of that clotting factor at least 3 times per week in order to live a reasonably healthy and productive life with his severe hemophilia. Do the math. That means our son runs up a minimum of $156,000 in medication costs alone each year.
Lifetime caps on health insurance policies were commonplace prior to the passage of the ACA. What this meant to families like mine was the threat that they could lose coverage for their medically fragile child within a decade by reaching a million dollar cap. Those lifetime limits would force parents to find new jobs just to keep coverage. This affected overall income and retirement benefits for families like mine. However, it doesn’t have to leave families like this in the future.
Do The Right Thing, Lawmakers
I used to tell my esteemed Conservative lawmakers when I worked on advocacy issues, “You are going to pay for this on the front side or you’re going to pay for this on the backside. You get to decide which way will cost the taxpayers the least amount of money.” Based on what I have seen as both a patient consumer AND as a former investment broker who also sold insurance, maintaining the elimination of lifetime caps on health insurance only makes sense. The insurance companies can afford to keep their belts tightened in comparison to the lavish ways they once operated. Additionally, the taxpayer will save money by keeping these expensive patients off of Medicaid.
Now our lawmakers need to take this history into consideration and do the right thing going forward.