Cancer survivors, patient advocates, speak out in defense of Obamacare

❝ With continuing attempts in Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act…a panel of experts and patient advocates at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting here discussed how changes would affect cancer patients and survivors.

“I don’t know if I’d be alive today without coverage under the Affordable Care Act,” said Chiara D’Agostino, a 45-year-old from Montclair, N.J., with triple negative, stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She said she could not have afforded medical insurance without the ACA.

“And I’m incredibly anxious that my healthcare insurance can be pulled out from under me.”

❝ She was joined on the panel by three-time breast cancer survivor Diana Chingos of Los Angeles, who related how she could not switch health plans prior to the ACA, as well as moderator Gilbert S. Omenn, MD, PhD, of University of Michigan, and Ernest Hawk, MD, MPH, of University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Omenn…noted that access to comprehensive health insurance is vital for all Americans, especially the 1.7 million who were diagnosed with cancer in 2016, and the estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States today…

❝ “About 3% of healthcare spending in the U.S. is for prevention and public health, and 75% of healthcare costs are related to preventable conditions,” said Hawk, noting that one-third to one-half of cancer deaths are preventable in western populations, and that the ACA has provisions for covering clinical preventive services…

❝ Chingos, a 23-year breast cancer survivor, said that when she left the corporate world to freelance years ago, she hadn’t expected to be diagnosed with cancer at age 30.

“I found that I was married to my health insurance policy,” she said, since she couldn’t switch coverage because of her pre-existing condition…

To her, she said, “Repeal and replace are words that are not compatible with a cancer diagnosis.”

Too bad so many of our elected officials are missing a heart.

Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition

Peggy Robertson rejected because of Caesarean – eligible if sterilized

Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition. That’s the new mantra, repeated triumphantly by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski and other advocates for women’s health. But what does it mean?

In the broadest sense, the new health care law forbids sex discrimination in health insurance. Previously, there was no such ban, and insurance companies took full advantage of the void…

Until now, it has been perfectly legal in most states for companies selling individual health policies — for people who do not have group coverage through employers — to engage in “gender rating,” that is, charging women more than men for the same coverage, even for policies that do not include maternity care. The rationale was that women used the health care system more than men. But some companies charged women who did not smoke more than men who did, even though smokers have more risks. The differences in premiums, from 4 percent to 48 percent, according to a 2008 analysis by the law center, can add up to hundreds of dollars a year. The individual market is the one that many people turn to when they lose their jobs and their group coverage.

Insurers have also applied gender-rating to group coverage, but laws against sex discrimination in the workplace prevent employers from passing along the higher costs to their employees based on sex. Gender rating has taken a particular toll on smaller or midsize businesses with many women, like home-health care, child care and nonprofits. As a result, some businesses have been unable to offer health coverage or have been able to afford it only by using plans with very high deductibles.

In addition, individual policies often excluded maternity coverage, or charged much more for it. Now, gender rating is essentially outlawed, and policies must include maternity coverage, considered “an essential health benefit.”

Overdue. By decades.