“Being a Woman Shouldn’t be a Pre-existing Condition”

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Click on Photo to View Women's Discussion About Health Care and the Affordable Care Act

Click on Photo to View Women's Discussion About Health Care and the Affordable Care Act

“There should be no cost to a human life; there should be no price tag,” Abby Schanfield, a teary-eyed University of Minnesota student born with a “pre-existing condition” said Friday morning on the two-year anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act — the Obama administration’s landmark health care legislation. “With the implementation of the law, I can stay on my parents’ (insurance) plan until I’m 26, which is a huge relief, because facing that uncertainty is extremely scary.”

The Affordable Care Act will face what could be its ultimate test this week when the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments against, and in defense of, the controversial health care legislation. The high court’s decision, expected in June, is expected to play a huge role in this year’s presidential campaign.

Schanfield was born with a rare parasitic congenital disease called Toxoplasmosis, which forced her to have brain surgery when she was 10 months old and caused her to begin losing the vision in one eye when she was 17 years old. She and other women whose families have faced precarious health care predicaments gathered at the home of Minnesota Nurses Association president Linda Hamilton to share their stories about experiencing health care insecurity, worrying about gaps in coverage for themselves, a spouse, parent or child, and facing financial hardship and discrimination from insurance companies.

Seated on Hamilton’s couches around the living room were U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Senator Al Franken, Congresswoman Betty McCollum and Governor Mark Dayton. For her part in the conversation, Secretary Sebelius highlighted how the Affordable Care Act has put many Americans back in charge of their health care since it was signed into law on March 23, 2010. Sebelius discussed how women in particular are disproportionally impacted by insurance company abuses such as discrimination on pre-existing conditions, coverage recessions and lifetime limits on care. She added that, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, being a woman will no longer be considered a pre-existing condition.

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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