HEALTH CARE REFORM – Dear Mr. President

I DON’T WANT TO OFFEND ANY BODY BUT THIS IS OUR STORY REGARDING HEALTH INSURANCE. IF YOU THINK THE TOPIC IS TOO FAR FROM YOU, THINK AGAIN. THIS IS OUR STORY THAT WE SHARED WITH THE PRESIDENT, OUR SENATOR, AND MANY, MANY NEWS PAPERS. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE IT WITH PEOPLE THAT YOU KNOW AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO TALK TO THEIR SENATOR.

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Dear Mr. President, I am so glad that you asked about my health care story.

Believing that I had medical coverage, I found myself pregnant in June 2007. The coverage had been terminated in mid-May but I was not notified until July. Although I would be working for the City and County for the next three years, my health insurance was only in effect from January – May of each year.

We sought to have me added to my husband’s insurance plan. We were told that this was not possible since the open enrollment period had passed. We applied for State-funded insurance and were denied because as far as the State was concerned, I should have been added to my husband’s policy. We sought private insurance but were denied because my pregnancy was considered a pre-existing condition.

I wrote letters to the insurance carrier asking that they please add me to my husband’s policy. After months of uncertainty and out-of-pocket expenses, I was retroactively added. This meant that we had to pay $700 each month to cover the prior months’ premiums and the current month’s premium. It was a lot of stress for a couple that should be focusing on the joy of becoming parents. We weren’t poor enough to get help and we weren’t wealthy enough to support ourselves – We were the middle class being squeezed.

When our daughter was born and added to our policy, the rate continued at $700/month. We could not maintain that expense since I was no longer working. Although a tough decision and potentially life-altering, we removed my coverage. I don’t want to come off as though I don’t recognize the value of medical insurance. We were extremely grateful to have coverage for my daughter’s birth. The delivery was approximately $24,000 and she required hospitalization twice soon after, including surgery to save her life. Our bills were minimal and we were pleased to not be burdened with medical expenses.

BUT insurance premiums are absurd. When I was paying for my medical services with cash (prior to being added to my husband’s insurance) the doctors and labs charged me half (or less) of the normal rate since they would not have to bill insurance. I was astounded to find out that my doctor felt that my visit was worth $50 if she didn’t have to process insurance and $150 if she did. The blood tests and amniocentesis were 50% of the cost since I paid cash.

I don’t know what more to say. I am hoping for a change to the system. I voted for change. I deserve change. My daughter deserves change. The future deserves change. Please give us that.

Jeni F. Eddington, American

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Jeni lives in Hawaii with her husband, Kyle and baby Sierra.

Please share this story.

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