Want a reason for reform? How about buying insurance and ending up $100,000 in medical debt


Dedicated to affordable, quality healthcare and coverage for all Americans.

By Consumers Union on Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

We’ve heard a lot this past month from health reform opponents that our healthcare system is just fine. If you believe that, then take a minute and listen to the story of Catherine Howard so you can get a better understanding of what insurance companies really are doing — and how much you are at risk from medical debt.

Catherine did everything she thought she was supposed to when it came to her health. Even though she was young and healthy, she knew she should be responsible and have health coverage in case of an accident. So she bought her own insurance policy since her job didn’t offer coverage. But when she got diagnosed with breast cancer, she discovered she didn’t have the coverage she thought. In fact, it put her $100,000 in debt — a bill she works to pay off every day.

Reform bills in Congress would prevent nightmares like Catherine’s, by putting a cap on a patients’ out-of-pocket expenses so they don’t have to go into debt just to get better. They would make sure policies sold in an “insurance exchange” would have a certain level of benefits so people with serious illnesses like cancer would have their treatments covered. And reform bills would make sure people like Catherine — now a cancer survivor with a pre-existing condition — couldn’t be discriminated against because of a previous illness when it comes to buying decent coverage.

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