By Ron Hollander, Executive Director, NETRF
While the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) on May 4, the U.S. Senate is currently drafting its own version of a bill to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The bill as passed by the House could lift requirements on the coverage of pre-existing conditions, such as cancer, which is deeply troubling to the patients we encounter every day.
The AHCA gives states the ability make decisions about coverage for pre-existing conditions or to even lump such patients into high-risk pools. That could mean patients with cancer could have difficulty obtaining health insurance or face higher out-of-pocket costs. Even a short gap between jobs could mean difficulty finding coverage or paying increased premiums.
One think tank and the AARP estimated the potential financial impact on cancer patients to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. And the human cost of delay in access to diagnosis, treatment, or needed treatments is immeasurable.
The AHCA passage occurred just before we cosponsored a patient and family education conference in Philadelphia, PA. I love these events because I can connect with patients, family members, and caregivers and learn about their personal journeys.
And the journey of a NET patient is long, difficult, and expensive. Many patients suffer symptoms for years and see half-a-dozen specialists before they are diagnosed. Some NET patients live for decades with their illness, during which time they inevitably would change health plans multiple times.
I hope that the U.S. Senate recognizes the importance of coverage for pre-existing coverage without additional premiums or co-pays. If you are able, consider reaching out to your U.S. Senator and sharing the story of your journey so that they may better understand the NET patient experience when considering eliminating this important safeguard.