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How Will the New Health Care Bill Affect Cancer Survivors and Patients?

The new GOP health care bill is causing concern for those suffering pre-existing medical conditions. How will it affect those with cancer?
PUBLISHED May 08, 2017
Bonnie Annis is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is an avid photographer, freelance writer/blogger, wife, mother and grandmother.
Currently, there’s a lot of buzz in the media over President Donald Trump’s new health care bill. The government is feverishly working to get the bill finalized and out to the public. Opinions on the revision vary, but many of us are hopeful for some welcomed changes.

The revised GOP health care bill says it would protect people with pre-existing conditions, but many experts beg to differ. The most recent change to the bill, called the MacArthur amendment after author, Republican House member Tom MacArthur, would allow states to opt out of several key Obamacare insurance regulations.

Two of these regulations protect those with health care issues obtain policies that are not only affordable, but also cover their treatments. The MacArthur amendment keeps Obamacare's guaranteed access clause. This clause requires insurers to provide policies to those with pre-existing conditions. Politicians say those currently ill or those suffering previous illnesses would continue to be protected. But there’s a catch. With the new bill, states could apply for waivers to change the cost and quality of their coverage. They could also choose to opt out of the essential health benefits law, which requires insurers to cover benefits that include hospitalization, prescription drugs and other services. States choosing to adopt waivers would likely offer less sufficient policies that don't cover all necessary treatments and medications to those with medical issues.
 
I am concerned about how this new health care policy will affect me. Currently, my insurance policy is good. I have coverage with one of the better companies and have had no issues with them covering expenses related to my cancer diagnosis, medication, treatment or recurring visits to doctors. But what will happen if they choose to drop me from coverage? Even with good insurance, the medical expenses we’ve incurred since I was diagnosed are exorbitant. Out of pocket expenses are difficult to pay for a one income, middle class household. "The individuals and families we represent cannot go back to a time when people with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage or forced to choose between purchasing basic necessities and affording their health care coverage," said a coalition of 10 patient advocacy groups, including the American Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society and the National MS Society.
 
It seems unfathomable for those affected by cancer to face the possibility of being uninsured or even underinsured. It seems very unfair that insurance companies might be allowed to set rates based on our health backgrounds. How are these companies going to be regulated? Who will monitor them to make sure they’re offering fair market prices?
 
As a victim of cancer, I think I can speak for the majority of those affected. None of us chose to have cancer. None of us chose to be thrown into a situation where we were faced with extensive surgery, ongoing expensive treatments and continued aftercare. What choice do we have over our health care? Cancer isn’t something that can be treated at home. It’s necessary to obtain the services of medical professionals and those individuals, specializing in the field of cancer, don’t come cheap.
 
So what’s our option? Do we contact our representatives and voice our opinions or do we sit back, cross our fingers, and hope for the best? I think it’s time we speak up and fight for quality health care. After all, we’ll be diagnosed with a pre-existing condition until the day we die.
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