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People With Pre-Existing Conditions Worry About Losing Health Coverage


One of the biggest concerns about the House bill is its treatment of pre-existing conditions. Several lawmakers were worried it would leave sicker people in the lurch, so an additional $8 billion was negotiated to help that population. But that is not comforting to Bob Flood of Allen, Texas. He had kidney cancer about 15 years ago. His family had health insurance through one of the so-called high risk pools that states had before Obamacare.

BOB FLOOD: I think we were in it for about six years. And the cost was outrageous. We never met deductible. We had it for catastrophic incidents. And we didn't feel more like customers. We felt more like we were prisoners. We were subjected to one insurance company.

SIEGEL: Bob Flood says he's been happy with his current health insurance through healthcare.gov, and he wants to keep it.

FLOOD: It seems we're stepping back again into a high-risk pool which did not work well for many people on it. And I'm just very sad that we don't seem to be moving forward. We seem to be dancing back.


As Alison Kodjak just told us, another provision of the House bill allows insurers to possibly pull back on lifetime benefits and get rid of limits on out-of-pocket costs. David Mueller of St. Louis, Mo., has a daughter with a rare form of cystic fibrosis, and he has a plea for Missouri's senators.

DAVID MUELLER: Please remember that my daughter's life is worth as much as all of their other constituents.

MCEVERS: Surgeries in her first year of life could have cost the family $2 million without health insurance. Mueller's terrified bankruptcy could be in the family's future if the out-of-pocket limit disappears.

MUELLER: In this country we can afford for her to receive the medical treatment that she needs, and that to take it away would be a full rejection of her life's value.

SIEGEL: But health insurance on the exchanges can be expensive, as it is for Jean Mattila of Hastings, Minn., and her husband.

JEAN MATTILA: We pay about $1,200 a month in premiums, and that's with each of us carrying a $7,500 deductible.

SIEGEL: She's happy to see President Trump take on health care.

MATTILA: He wants a result. That's what he's looking for. And that's what I want. I want a result because anything is better than what we have now in the health care stuff. And I'm sticking with him.

MCEVERS: So is Frank Mutch, who lives in Polson, Mont. He's frustrated by the promises he heard from President Obama.

FRANK MUTCH: You can keep your doctor. You can keep your health plan. You can keep your insurance. And we're going to save you money. None of those were fulfilled, and that's why people want something new.

MCEVERS: House Republicans say their something new will be more competitive and lower costs. But experts say those promises will also be hard to keep. Thanks to the reporting partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR member stations for bringing us those voices. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.