Health care ruling brings relief to families with pre-existing conditions

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on June 28, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 28 at 6:21 PM

CARROLLTON - The provision in President Obama's health care overhaul about "pre-existing conditions" has people with diabetes and heart disease cheering.

One-in-five Americans who are not elderly has a pre-existing condition and is uninsured, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

They are often strapped with huge medical bills because of that.

"$27,842," is the number that affects the Schmaeling family.

That's the total from a long list of confusing hospital charges for 13-year-old Trevor. In May, he had an allergic reaction to a medicine. The hospital kept him for two days out of caution.

"For a rash," said Trevor's mother, Sandra, "and he's fine."

"I was blown away by the number," said father, Frank Schmaeling. "You wouldn't figure two-and-a-half days in the hospital would be $28,000."

The bill wouldn't be anywhere near that amount if this family of five had insurance.

They don't because of Trevor's Type 1 diabetes, Frank's asthma, and 12-year-old Frank, Jr.'s asthma.

Even after the government made it possible for people to get coverage for pre-existing conditions, the Schmaelings say they were denied many times.

They hope the Supreme Court ruling will make the process easier for other families in their predicament.

"We won't have that worry about a $28,000 bill," Frank said. "I mean, we'll have at least insurance and somebody as an advocate on our side to help us out when these bills come in and things of that nature. So we're excited about the opportunity to finally get insurance."

Another problem the Schmaelings have had is being self-employed. Insurance companies had said they couldn't qualify for group plans, because they didn't have enough employees. Now, anyone who wants health care coverage can get it.

That won't help the Schmaelings with the $28,000 bill, which the hospital says they must pay in full.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

 

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