Mother shares sick son's huge medical bills to stress importance of having health insurance

Alison Chandra fears Republican healthcare reform would disqualify many aspects of insurance 

Will Worley
Tuesday 27 June 2017 16:11 BST
Alison Chandra with her son, Ethan.
Alison Chandra with her son, Ethan. (Alison Chandra/Twitter)

The mother of a young boy with congenital heart defects has published a copy of her medical bill to show how much for uninsured American citizens under proposed legislation to repeal Obamacare.

If changes planned by Donald Trump's Republican Party take effect, an uninsured Alison Chandra would have faced bills of more than $200,000 (£158,000) for the life saving surgery performed on her three-year-old son Ethan, who suffers from a rare condition named Heterotaxy syndrome.

Instead she paid just $500 (£396) because she had healthcare insurance.

Tweeting a copy of the bill, Ms Chandra wrote: "It seems fitting that, with the #TrumpCare debate raging, I got this bill in the mail today from Ethan's most recent open heart surgery."

Adding up what their bill would have been without insurance she added they"would owe $231,115 for 10 hours in the OR, 1 week in the CICU and 1 week on the cardiac floor."

Ethan’s condition is extremely complex and requires near-constant medical care. He was born with two lungs, heart defects and several organs in the wrong place.

Ms Chandra is currently financially stable – thanks to her strong insurance coverage – but said she was scared of the effects the new healthcare bill, dubbed Trumpcare, could have.

"My fear is that this bill comes into play and suddenly essential health benefits are no longer covered, like hospitalisation, prescription medications," she told CNN.

"He will rely on prescription medications for the rest of his life. He is functionally asplenic and will need to take prophylactic antibiotics the rest of his life to prevent and protect against sepsis, a huge risk of death for our kids in the heterotaxy community."

On social media, she expressed her fear that the reinstatement of caps on insurance would mean he was “out”.

“As long as we have him with us (and I hope with everything in me that it's forever) we will need to pay for expensive medical care,” she said. “A lifetime cap on benefits is the same as saying, ‘Sorry, you're not worth keeping alive anymore. You're just too expensive’."

The Republican healthcare bill has been met with strong opposition, including from rebellious members of the party and their rival Democrats.

The hostility has been fuelled in part by a report released yesterday by the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

It showed Republican reforms would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026, compared to legislation drawn up by Barack Obama.

The budget office report said the Senate bill's coverage losses would especially affect people between 50 and 64.

The Senate plan would end the tax penalty that the current law imposes on people who don't buy insurance, in effect erasing Mr Obama's so-called individual mandate, and on larger businesses that don't offer coverage to workers.

It would let states ease Mr Obama's requirements that insurers cover certain specified services like substance abuse treatments, and eliminate $700bn (£554bn) worth of taxes over a decade, the CBO said, largely on wealthier people and medical companies that Mr Obama's law used to expand coverage.

It would cut Medicaid, which provides health insurance to over 70 million poor and disabled people, by $772 bn (£604bn) until 2026 by capping its overall spending and phasing out Mr Obama's expansion of the program.

Of the 22 million people losing health coverage, 15 million would be Medicaid recipients.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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