The Patients

In Their Own Words

As told to Cristina Lindblad, Chris Christoff, and Michael C. Bender

The caring mom

Maureen Casey, 44, is a stay-at-home mother of three in Phoenix. Her middle child, Declan, has a rare genetic disorder that has required multiple surgeries.

Our son was born in 1998 with a rare condition known as arthrogryposis multiplex congenita distal type 1, which occurs once in 30,000 births. That means his joints are contracted, so his muscles didn’t develop properly in utero. The doctors told us he would not be able to walk, he would not be able to feed himself.

By the time he was four he’d had 13 surgeries. And each surgery is like tens of thousands of dollars. I would hand over my credit card, and my husband one day said, ‘What are we going to do when we max out the card?’ I told him it’s a good thing we have another one.

It’s been very difficult to find insurance. We pay $31,000 a year in premiums for a plan with a $5,000 deductible.

I’m excited about the Affordable Care Act because I don’t have to stress anymore that we might meet our lifetime cap. I don’t have to stress that once our son is 18 he’s going to have to find insurance himself.

And I don’t have to worry he’ll be discriminated against as an adult. One of our biggest fears is, ‘OK, great, we did all this to make him functional and then he’s not going to be employable.’

If you looked at him today, you’d say, ‘Really, Maureen, this is a kid with a disability?’ If you look closely, you can see that his fingers are a little bit different and his gait is a little off. And if you hang out with him enough, you know he’s breakable.

The conscientious objector

Retiree Mike Konners, 70, of Troy, Mich., leads a Tea Party group and wants to repeal the health-care law. He recovered from a stroke with Medicaid assistance.

Just about everything government has been involved in has gone belly-up. You’ve got Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Amtrak, the post office going broke, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac going broke. I think we should ask them to fix those things before they ask to have another sixth of the economy.

Once you force insurance companies to accept people with preexisting conditions, it’s really no longer insurance, it’s kind of a welfare thing. I truly believe this whole thing was designed to make the government take over the entire healthcare system. It’s going to drive a lot of insurance companies out of the health insurance business because they won’t be able to make enough money.

A good portion [of the medical coverage for my stroke] was paid by Medicaid. I was approaching 65 and wasn’t eligible for Medicare. I had let an insurance plan drop. I have nothing against Medicare or Medicaid. I have something against the way they’re being administered. To pay for Obamacare, it takes $500 billion out of Medicare, which is already going broke. What sense does that make?

I don’t think there’s anywhere in the Constitution that gives the federal government the right to mandate that everyone buy insurance.

The devil is in the details, and there are many details in Obamacare that aren’t spelled out.

The twenty-something

Jessica Fernandez, 27, of Miami Lakes, Fla., lost her insurance when she left her public-relations job last year. After pricing coverage, she decided to go without.

The price was $567 a month for a single female in complete health. I found it to be exorbitant and not fair. In my last three years of employment, I think I went to the doctor maybe three times at the most. For someone who doesn’t use the insurance to begin with, I don’t think it’s worth the risk. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be getting a new job.

Another option I looked at was one of these local clinics where you can purchase a policy. The monthly premium is in the $150 to $250 range, but their deductibles are ridiculous. It’s not even worth having the insurance if you have to pay so much out of pocket.

My father is a long-term unemployed person, and my stepmother was recently laid off. So I’m using that money to supplement the family budget, buying groceries, paying for repairs at the house, helping to make the mortgage payment.

If I get a virus or a cold, I’d probably try to tough it out. But otherwise, God forbid that something happens to me, I’d go to the hospital just like everyone else who is uninsured and then rely on my ability to negotiate with the hospital. You know, it’s worked out for me in the past.

I wish that insurance providers would provide you discounts like the auto industry: safe driver discounts, if you’re married, if you’re over 25. What about if they calculated my BMI or if they said, ‘Jessica, how fast can you run the mile?’


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