Six months ago, Gail O'Brien didn’t know whether or not she would be able to treat her cancer. Betsy Burton wasn't sure if she could afford to keep paying the skyrocketing premiums for her employees' health insurance. Paul Horne was struggling to make ends meet after his prescription drug coverage hit the "donut hole."
The thing about these stories is that they could happen to anybody. Millions of Americans — maybe even you or someone you know — have been struggling for years with our broken health care system. These stories are what inspired me to fight for the Affordable Care Act and made me so proud to sign this landmark legislation into law six months ago.
Every day, I hear from Americans like Gail, Betsy and Paul, and a few of these folks have stepped forward to bravely share their stories with the entire country. Take a minute to hear what they have to say:
The Affordable Care Act is already making a difference in the lives of millions of Americans. And starting tomorrow, the Patient's Bill of Rights goes into effect, ending some of the worst abuses of the insurance industry and putting you, not your insurance company, in control of your health care.
Here's what the Patient's Bill of Rights means for you:
- No more discrimination against kids with pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies can no longer bar families from purchasing coverage because of a child's pre-existing condition.
- No more lifetime coverage limits. Insurance companies can no longer put a lifetime limit on the amount of coverage you can receive.
- Young adults can now stay on their parent's plan. Young adults can stay on their parent's health insurance plan up to age 26 if their job doesn't provide health care benefits — a huge relief for many parents and recent college graduates.
- Free preventive care. If you join or purchase a new plan, the insurance company will be required to provide preventive care like mammograms, colonoscopies, immunizations, pre-natal and baby care without charging you any out of pocket costs.
- Freedom to choose your own doctor. If you purchase or join a new plan, you have the right to choose your own doctor in your insurer network.
- No more restrictions on emergency room care. Insurance companies will not be allowed to charge you more for out of network emergency services if you purchase or join a new a plan.
This is a long-overdue victory for American consumers and patients. For years, millions of Americans have been at the mercy of their insurance companies as they jacked up rates, denied coverage or dropped patients all together.
Now, some opponents of this reform have pledged to "repeal and replace" all of the progress we've made over the past six months. But I refuse to go back to the days when insurance companies could deny a child health care due to a pre-existing condition or impose a lifetime limit on care for a cancer patient. Those days are over.
The Affordable Care Act provides basic rules of the road that make our health care system work for consumers. It cuts costs and will help us begin to get our fiscal house in order. And most importantly, it provides Americans with the peace of mind that their insurance will be there for them when they need it.
To learn more about the Patient’s Bill of Rights and the Affordable Care Act, visit:
President Barack Obama
P.S. Last week, I surprised Gail O'Brien by calling her at home. You can see what happened here: