Back in 1984 I kept having a series of strep throat issues. My doctor at the time said that I needed to have my tonsils out. I wasn’t happy with the possibility of surgery and I wasn’t a kid anymore, so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. However, 20 days before I was to have my surgery, my employer changed insurance companies, and suddenly I was hit with a pre-existing condition clause that had nothing to do with me and told I’d have to wait a year. I called my doctor and canceled, since I knew it would cost me about $1,000 if I had to pay for it, and that wasn’t happening. I still have my tonsils.

Although my surgery wasn’t critical, it turns out that many people over the years have had to have very crucial surgery or had other medical issues to deal with, including pregnancy, who suddenly lost their insurance coverage through some fluke that tossed them into the pre-existing category. When you’re crucial you don’t have much of a choice in saying you don’t want surgery, and suddenly you’re in financial distress, which causes stress, and thus makes it harder to heal and get healthy.

Insurance companies have used this trick for years, with condition time periods ranging anywhere from 6 months to a year. It’s always been pretty unfair to consumers, who were hanging onto a rock that wouldn’t budge. Obviously surgery is important but it’s also expensive, like medication and other health care. It’s tough enough for new employees to have to wait for insurance coverage to kick in at some companies for the first 90 days to pass, which I also understand because it’s expensive to cover an employee that might not make it through a probation period, but making someone wait a year or even longer for their legitimate insurance coverage to reach an arbitrary date for coverage is punitive.

It doesn’t matter whether people like the overall health care plan that’s coming from the government or not; this turns out to be one of the best things that’s come from the bill already. There are many images like the one above highlighting people who have benefited from this bill. My bet is that even people against the bill know someone who’d had this problem. When you have money, this is never a problem; when you don’t…

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