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Jenna Smith: The Doughnut Hole
The pain medication Jenna Smith takes to treat an extreme case of Lyme disease cost her more than $1,000 a month. She has Medicare coverage, but every year by spring she has spent roughly $3,000 on prescription drugs. After that, she falls into the “doughnut hole,” at which time she has to pay out-of-pocket for $3,610 worth of prescription drugs before she qualifies for coverage again. As part of health care reform, she was sent a check for about $100 to help cover the cost of falling into the hole. “Health care reform hasn’t helped us at all,” says Smith. “What I need is the doughnut hole to go away.” She’d like to see it closed up immediately, instead of waiting until 2014, as planned in the original reform package.
Smith is among the one in four Americans who think portions of the bill should be repealed. She is in favor of what she sees as common sense measures, like closing the doughnut hole and paying drug costs for the disabled and the elderly.
Jana and Tom: Skyrocketing Costs
Jana and Tom were at risk of losing their home due to their high health insurance costs. Because Tom had cancer, forgoing coverage was not an option. He reported to work three days a week at his construction job solely out of his desperation to retain his benefits while undergoing cancer treatments. In March 2010, Tom lost his battle with the disease. “Fortunately my husband was able to keep his insurance until the end,” Jana says. “That’s the only reason I didn’t lose my home.”
Now, says Jana, “I work mainly because I have a pre-existing condition and I need the insurance.”
Ashli Norton: No Mandate
As a self-employed, uninsured, healthy 20-something, Ashli Norton was angered by the idea that she'd be forced to purchase insurance coverage that she didn’t think she needed. Today, she has a high-deductible insurance plan and a health care savings account.
“I don’t think we should repeal the whole bill, but there should be changes,” says Norton. “There should be more emphasis on preventive health care. Give me a discount on my gym membership, promote discounts on healthier foods or help me buy healthy, local produce.”
But most importantly, she says, don’t force people to buy something they don’t want. “I have coverage, but I was able to do it the way I wanted to do it,” Norton says.
The proposal to repeal health care reform is expected to pass in the House of Representatives, but Senate approval would be required to actually repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Democrats still hold the majority in that chamber, so an all-out repeal seems unlikely. House Republicans have other options to derail reform, though, such as defunding certain provisions or taking a scalpel to particularly contentious parts of the current legislation. Stay tuned; the issue isn’t likely to go away any time soon.
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