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New Options for Those with Chronic Illness

Having a chronic illness is not easy. You have doctor appointments. Prescriptions to fill. Medical bills to sort through. Lab tests. Physical therapy exercises. Special diets. In some ways, a chronic illness can feel like a full-time job.

Ay, there’s the rub.

A chronic illness can feel like a full-time job, but millions of Americans depend on a full-time job for health insurance. So those of us with a chronic illness are often juggling two jobs – the one that pays the bills and provides the insurance and the one that racks up the bills and uses the insurance.

But what are we to do?

The individual insurance market is not a friendly place for the chronically ill. Once I had that first asthma attack as a child, the likelihood of getting coverage in the individual market took a nose dive.

The grass is not always greener on another plan. It’s difficult to give up a good employer sponsored plan when you don’t know what you will end up with. Access to my former employer’s insurance was an important factor in my decision to go to law school at night because I couldn’t take the chance that a student health plan wouldn’t cover my illness.

But things are changing.

The health care law is already making sure people with chronic illness get the care they need:

  • Insurance companies can no longer kick people off insurance when they get sick.
  • There are no more lifetime limits on insurance coverage, which means people with chronic illness don’t have to worry about maxing out on coverage.
  • Children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage.

And in less than two years, people with chronic illnesses will have choice and access to coverage:

  • Adults with pre-existing conditions will no longer be denied coverage.
  • Insurance companies will no longer be able to charge more to somebody for being sick.
  • There will be new voluntary health insurance Exchanges where people will have real options for coverage outside of employment. Those without access to affordable employer coverage may be eligible for subsidies to make the coverage more affordable.

Find out more about how the health care law helps women at iwillnotbedenied.org