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Immediate changes if health bill passed

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Mar 19, 2010
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Immediate changes if health bill passed

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Mar 19, 2010
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KAI RYSSDAL: There is a vote scheduled in the House for sometime Sunday. Up or down on the health care bill. Assuming the thing does make it to the president’s desk, some people’s lives are going to start changing right away.

As Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.


Nancy Marshall Genzer: If the health care bill passes, insurers wouldn’t be able to deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, starting almost immediately. That would apply to the O’Reilly family.

Natalie O’Reilly says her daughter, Sophie, has a chronic problem with her right lung.

Natalie O’Reilly: It just kept collapsing, and in doing so, was making her very sick.

The only insurers who will take the O’Reillys wouldn’t cover Sophie’s lung problems. O’Reilly is cautiously hopeful about the health insurance bill. She’s happy that they could get insurance, as long as the premiums were affordable.

There’s another provision of the health care bill that would help families. Children would be able to stay on their parents’ policies until they were 26. And starting this year, insurance companies couldn’t drop people in individual plans, if they got sick.

Jean Marie Abraham is a health care economist at the University of Minnesota. She says it doesn’t make sense that insurers can drop sick people now.

Jean Marie Abraham: Insurance is designed to help people when they have a catastrophic health event. And that seems counterintuitive to the purpose of insurance.

Austin Frakt is a health economist at Boston University. He says, in a few years, insurers wouldn’t be able to deny anyone coverage because of a pre-existing condition. In the mean time, people denied insurance could get coverage through a high-risk pool.

Austin Frakt: So they’re doing what can be done easily and inexpensively right away, and things that require more set-up and are most costly have been pushed out a few years.

Of course, the whole plan will be pushed off a cliff, if Congress doesn’t pass the health care bill. If the House passes the bill Sunday, it should land in the Senate next week.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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