Faces of the New Health Care Law

Each day this week, you’ve heard stories about what the new health care law means for every day people.  Today, March 23, marks the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, and three remarkable women share their stories about how the new health care law is affecting their lives and the lives of their families.  They are truly the faces of the Affordable Care Act, representing the millions of Americans already benefiting from health care reform and looking forward to full implementation of the consumer protections in the health care law in 2014.

Alycia Steinberg’s family was stunned when the pediatrician told them last fall that 2-year-old Avey had leukemia. Her first hospital stay at Johns Hopkins cost $100,000 and she has 2 ½ more years of chemotherapy ahead of her. “Being uninsured is not an option for my family,” Alycia says.

The Affordable Care Act protects Avey’s health insurance coverage because it bars insurance companies from denying coverage to children for pre-existing conditions.

“Childhood cancer is cruel. To have to worry about how your child will get treatment and how you will maintain your family’s most basic financial security is also cruel. ...When discussing health reform, we often talk about our goal of protecting the most vulnerable among us. What we forget is that we are all vulnerable,” Alisha says.

Robyn Martin’s son Jax has serious genetic disorders, including a heart defect.  After he was born, he immediately was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) where he spent three weeks.  And Jax has undergone surgery since then.  Before the law, Americans were in danger of having their health insurance coverage max out when the cost of their treatment hit a lifetime limit set by their insurer.  But, the Affordable Care Act now prohibits lifetime dollar limits, which has been a saving grace for Robyn and her family.

“I don’t know how much all of his health care has cost to this point, but in five months, I know it’s got to be a lot. The first day in the NICU was $150,000,” Robin says. “If he in five months used up the lifetime limit for him, my family would be in really dire straits.” 

Dr. Sherell Mason received Affordable Care Act assistance to help cover her medical school debt in exchange for working in the National Health Service Corps at a community health center that provides health services to the uninsured and underinsured.

“I feel like the ACA is good because, No. 1, you place the health care workers in place to be able to receive those patients, and also you allow community medicine to happen,” Dr. Mason says.

These women are some of the faces of the Affordable Care Act: two mothers worried about their children’s health and their family’s ability to pay for care, and a doctor who got support for her education so she could serve her community.

Visit www.healthcare.gov/mycare to learn more about the benefits and rights under the law.

 

Dori Salcido is the HHS Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
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