Pre-existing conditions

I try to stay out of politics. Really, I do. But the presidential debate tonight really highlighted the candidates’ differences on health care in America. If you missed it, here is the briefest of comparisons, as presented in the debate and elsewhere.

Under Barack Obama’s plan, insurance companies will not be allowed to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions. Like, oh, say, cancer.

Under John McCain’s plan, there is no such assurance.

Under Barack Obama’s plan, all children will have health insurance, through their currently held family plan, through Medicare, or under a new plan similar to that held by federal employees.

Under John McCain’s plan, there is no such assurance.

Under Barack Obama’s plan, I would be able to continue to get treatment at my current hospital, with my current doctor. I would be able to change jobs without fear of losing access to health insurance, due to my pre-existing condition. The little children in my son’s school would all have coverage as well, and be able to get care when they need it, instead of waiting to see if an ER visit is necessary.

Under John McCain’s plan, there is no such assurance.

The difference is striking. And huge, for those of us who have, have had, or will develop cancer in our lifetimes.

That number is one in three.


43 Responses to Pre-existing conditions

  1. johnsarah08 says:

    Hey have you ever thought of living your own life with no goverment involved??? Its great!!! Its the republican way.

  2. Kristin says:

    Even without cancer, my sister and her family, a self-employed family with pre-existing conditions, struggle with health care. I think of them every time a candidate talks about his plans. What works for the majority won’t work for them and I worry.

  3. katbur says:

    Gee johnsarah08 I don’t know who the hell you are or what you are talking about but that kind of attitude basically says it’s okay for people to die of cancer because of politics. I’ve written a blog post about what it would cost me to buy health insurance as of last week. The estimates? Between $16,800 and $48,000 per year. So shut up and go away.

  4. jen says:

    I have asthma & a bum knee and I can’t get private insurance. Asthma & a bum-frakking-knee and I’m considered uninsurable by private plans. To be insured under my husband’s employer’s plan would cost us $654/month, or 34% of his income, so I get to just hope & pray that I don’t get sick any time soon, because the state insurance plan won’t cover me unless I get pregnant & even then they’ll only cover me for the duration of the pregnancy. They’ll cover the kids, until they’re 19, unless they decide not to because we *can* get insurance through my husband’s employer, but again: 34% of his income, meaning we’d have to move in with his mother in order to afford living expenses. Welcome to America.

  5. Dawn says:

    aaand again why this registered Republican is changing lanes this year.

  6. whymommy says:

    I think we all know people who can’t afford treatment that would save their lives.

    That’s why this is important.

  7. JessT says:

    Well said. I kept thinking of that while the candidates were talking — the ppl who won’t be able to get insurance AT ALL.

  8. Sophmom says:

    Under McCain’s plan, existing employer provided health insurance benefits would be taxed as income. Say it out loud. It’s unspeakable.

  9. jaelithe says:

    Under Senator Obama’s plan, my four-year-old son is guaranteed to get the therapy he needs for his sensory disorder.

    Under John McCain’s plan, my husband’s employer would almost certainly drop our family’s health insurance coverage because of the increased tax burden, and we would almost certainly not be able to buy private insurance that would cover my son’s therapy, because his sensory disorder is a preexisting condition.

  10. Amy says:

    JohnSarah08 – We’re self-employed, and for our family of four healthy people (M-32, F-32, F-3, F-1) health insurance (which is not private, it’s written as a two person group, with my husband and I being insured as separate “families”) costs $14,000 a year.

    If the government isn’t going to regulate the health insurance industry (and it IS an industry) then they need to provide an affordable alternative. I’m all for small government, but I’m not all for people dying because they can’t afford medical care becuase insurance companies are making money hand over fist and not covering anything. Either they need to regulate the crap out of the insurance companies (no more pre-existing conditions, no more tying insurance to employment, capping the amount of profit an insurance company can make in a year, etc.) or they (the government) need to get involved and provide an affordable alternative.

    We, like many Americans, are ONE health crisis away from ruin. If my husband (self-employed, remember) gets cancer, and can’t work for 6 months or a year because he’s in treatment, we’re screwed. Screwed. My back up plan is to get a job at Starbucks because they provide insurance to all their employees. He’s a rocket scientist (yes, literally) with a masters, I have a bachelors. How sad is it that in this great country, two college educated entrepreneurs, who are motivated and self-sufficient and “living the dream” – small business, creating jobs, etc. etc. etc. have a back up plan of WORKING AT STARBUCKS because the health insurance situation in this country is so completely farked up.

    Oh my God, I have to go to bed now. This is bad for my blood pressure…

    Amy @ prettybabies

  11. Christina says:

    I hear ya. Under McCain’s plan, we’d get a $5000 credit to use towards insurance. Too bad it would cost us upwards of $14,000 a year and wouldn’t cover my depression or my daughter’s autism therapies, if we were able to get a policy at all.

    I hope for just this once this country votes for the president we need and not the one we deserve. We need Obama.

  12. Great and to the point. I’ve been mulling over a post on this topic and will link to you. In a nutshell, McCain’s plan is great for healthy people who can stay that way. As you point out, that’s tricky/ I think women should espcially be concerned as we are also much more prone to autoimmune diseases (also strikes against insurance).

  13. Paulette says:

    I won’t believe any of it until I see it, It is so hard to trust that once either of them are in there we will get what we need. I am definately voting just don’t yet know positively.

  14. I saw your post through Queen of Spain’s tweet. I had a cancer scare this last year, and two of the three other household members have had cancer in the last two years.

    So I get what you’re saying.

    I have fibromyalgia and celiac disease, and I’d hate to be excluded, even though the cost of my pre-existing condition isn’t large.

  15. The McCain plan – to tax healthcare benefits – is cruel and unusual punishment for anyone who uses their healthcare. I’d like improved coverage – and if Obama can increase the pool so I can get it for less, I’m all for that. McCain just doesn’t get it.

  16. m says:

    The fact that John McCain actually thinks that $5000 (pre-tax!) is an adequate health care allowance shows how completely out-of-touch he is. I too worry that my family is one serious illness away from financial catastrophe.

  17. Donna4k says:

    Our income has remained the same for five years so that my husband small co. keeps coverage.. and we are luckier than many. What college savings-stopped that 3 yrs ago— what retirement– stopped that 2 yrs ago–even if we went without and kids got covered thru state— 3 of the 8 adults have conditions that insurers would avoid like the plague…. they are the plague to any user of this health care system — the only folks who seem ok with the Republican stance on this are either wealthy, short sighted or both. We do need a change!

  18. molly says:

    very well said. I had cancer and several other issues that make my private insurance unbareably expensive. I work very long hours with the hopes that my current employer see my value and i make it thru the next round or lay offs. When I see people who say.. less govern involment and just take care of your self.. and save money for when you need it! i want to shout… I had cancer when I was 29!!! i did not get cancer because i did not excersice or eat fish. So for the rest of my life.. (and i plan on being here for a long time). i will have the ‘stigma’ of cancer on my healthcare record. Hell.. my father had cancer when he was 17.. over 50 years ago, and he still had to pay more due to that pre cond. It is crazy.

  19. Nancy says:

    The thought of McCain dictating changes to my health insurance terrifies me. I’d undoubtedly need to go without the medicine that stabilizes my health and protects me against blood issues and bone damage. There’s no question who I am voting for.

  20. Bon says:

    as a Canadian watching the US election with great interest, this is the issue that continues to baffle me. i’m not suggesting that Americans necessarily model their plan off the Canadian – though i’ve been very well-served by our socialized medicine, i have to say – but for crying out loud, people bankrupting themselves for health care (or being taxed on it!) sounds barbaric and medieval to most of the rest of the developed world.

    and life without government – as the genius johnsarah08 above advocates – sounds dandy…no rule of law! good times. plus lack of regulation has clearly done wonders for the economy over the past coupla years. sigh.

    anyhoo, hear hear, Whymommy. i wish i could vote.

  21. Great post, here from your other blog (DC Metro Moms) which I hit from a tweet by @svmom.

    What really struck me as well was the very first comment. How *anyone*, Republican or Democrat, can still be trumpeting the “Republicans are all about small government” after the last 8 years especially, with the war in Iraq, the amazing national deficit they’ve run up, their desire to be in people’s bedrooms (no gays) and in women’s health care (no choice) – THAT’S “small government”???

    It’s true what Christopher Buckley said when he resigned from the National Review – these “neo-con” Republicans aren’t real conservatives and don’t hold the values of real conservatives.

    And I say that, not even being one! Go Obama!

  22. Ladybug Crossing says:

    I, too, try to stay out of it..
    I think if you look at McCain’s plan again you will see that his plan is about affordability and portability. You have insurance… you take it with you from job to job to home. You don’t have to worry about pre-existing conditions anymore. The issue becomes moot.
    That said, it’s not the government’s job to provide anyone with health insurance. The government’s job is to run the country and keep the US safe and free. That’s it.

  23. Well put…I linked this with my blog. My non political except when I just can’t help it blog!

  24. Margaret R. says:

    Hear, hear! You should call the Obama campaign and volunteer to be the real “face”– and articulate voice– of his healthcare plan. I want to hear about Susan the Astrophysicist Mom instead of Joe the Plumber on the news!

  25. Deb says:

    I’d like for Obama to address the cost of health care. Does he have any plans to stop the spiraling costs. My granddaughter’s well baby check up was $400. That included 2 shots. Thank goodness they have insurance. I don’t.

  26. Mummycha says:

    This is a great post, thanks for emphasizing this point.
    I have a question to Ladybug Crossing: “it’s not the government’s job to provide anyone with health insurance”
    Whose job is it, then? Please educate me about how you envision an efficient health insurance system fair to everyone without the government being a major player in its implementation and regulation.

  27. Tracie says:


    I was sitting at the Dentist office waiting for my son when I read your story in a magazine. My best friend was diagnosed with IBC 4 years ago at the age of 35. This was a reoccurance for her, as she was previously diagnosed with ductal carcinoma at age 25. She opted for double mastectomy, chemo, and radiation (tomo therapy). She is currently without evidence of disease. She had a negative mammo in January, 2004, and noticed the redness, itching, and hard breast in October of same year. She went straight to her surgeon, and was diagnosed within a week. Definitely, breast cancer does affect young women. My insurance company is one that will only pay for mammo every other year from age 40 to 50. What a crock! I would love to here from you, and I could pass this on to my friend. She also frequents the young survival coalition message board.

    Have a wonderful day, and I look forward to hearing from you. Your story is very inspiring!

    Northern Michigan

  28. Ree says:

    Thanks Susan – you’ve summed it up beautifully, and more importantly…from a personal knowledge standpoint.

  29. Monica says:

    Last year my self-employed husband and I paid $9600 in health insurance premiums. We had an awful plan with a huge deductible and co-payments. Basically despite our almost 10k/year plan, we paid everything out of pocket.

    Under McCain’s health plan, our premium would be tax-deductible. NEWSFLASH – it already IS, since we are self employed. The only difference would be that he only allows a 5k deduction for premiums. Currently we can deduct all of it. Also, he would now tax it as income, so we would be out a couple of thousand dollars MORE since we would be paying taxes on an additional $10k in “income.” ARGH!

  30. Eve (hhb) says:

    I already posted a version of this comment on DCMetro Moms, but I wanted to post here too because I think this discussion is so important.

    I had a conversation with a friend the other day who said that eventually we will all come down with some preexisting condition eventually, unless we’re “lucky” enough to be hit by a bus. The pursuit of good health should be a right, but our health insurance — which supposedly enables us to do this — is based on a business model that actually makes it more difficult for us to do so. Our healthcare system, such as it is, needs radical change.

    I feel like our economic future here in the US is so insecure. Middle class salaries are being eaten by childcare, education, housing, and healthcare costs. I actually have a low-interest credit card which I’ve never used that I figure I could use — God forbid — if my family had a costly medical emergency. It shouldn’t have to be this way.

    One additional comment, partly in response to Ladybug Crossing above. Susan, to me, your family’s predicament is the opposite of “freedom”. Your husband isn’t free to leave his job and look for different or potentially more rewarding work (not that his work isn’t necessarily rewarding, but you know what I mean). Your family isn’t free to move across the country, if you wanted to, because your insurance is tied to your husband’s job. Your husband isn’t free to stay at home with the kids even if you guys could afford it, because it would mean losing your health insurance. And what’s true for your family is true for all of our families. Obama’s plan wouldn’t necessarily address this issue directly, but it would certainly be a step in the right direction, since it seems to provide more of a safety net than we have now. And while McCain’s plan might be a step away from employer-based coverage, I think in both the short-term and long-term it will end up excluding and a lot of people.

    Please vote on 11/4, especially if you live in a swing state!

    Eve in Maryland

  31. Margaret R. says:

    I don’t think, in your wildest dreams, you ever imagined that this very reasonable and heart-stirring post could possibly elicit a debate about abortion, but it’s hard for me to resist responding to Adam.

    My 6th grader came home from Catholic school the other day and mentioned that another child in his class had announced that it was impossible for a “real” Catholic to vote for Barack Obama because he was “for abortion.”

    Here’s what my 12-year-old said in response:

    “He’s not for abortion. He’s just for not forcing everybody else to believe what he believes. That’s what being an American means.”

    Out of the mouths of babes.

  32. MummyCha says:

    I am appalled to read that some people believe health insurance is a privilege not a right in a country with a budget of 3+ trillion dollars…

    Johnsara08: I am not sure what your point is. If the government takes 30+% of my income, in return I expect it to spend it in a reasonable way, not waste a large part of it on a war in a far away country. I do want my tax money to be committed to improving the education and health systems for the many people in this rich country who need it.

    Such a lack of solidarity between fellow citizens is very sad.

  33. Adam says:


    Unless you are OK with Margaret R. and I continuing to converse here, would you suggest another venue where we might? Or Margaret R., if you have one which you feel is satisfactory, please let me know.


  34. whymommy says:

    Sorry, friends, but the abortion debate does not belong on this blog, and I don’t sanction the inflammatory words that have been used. Comment — for the first time — deleted.

  35. kristin says:

    i think barack obama has a better healthcare plan, from what i have heard, but on the scale of the issues that i believe in, john mccain has my vote.
    thankyou whymommy for letting me voice my simple little thought


    everyone (registered legally) make sure to go and vote. it’s very important.

  36. momof3 says:

    i think barack obama has a better healthcare plan, but on the scale of the other issues that i believe in, john mccain wins my vote.

    thanx for letting me voice my simple little thought whymommy 🙂

  37. As a (liberal) health policy person, I was much taken with Obama’s explanations. It drives me bonkers that McCain’s “solution” is to let people buy cheaper insurance from states with fewer mandates than those in effect in their own states. So what happens when those thrifty people find out their new insurance does not cover everything they thought it would? Will he just say tough luck?

  38. gatechdoc says:

    Anybody ever think about how much money is spent by the candidates/parites on the presidential election alone? Yeah, it’s a lot. Now think about all those folks running for Congress and all the money they’re spending to get elected. Now think about all the people running for all of those state and local races and the money they’re spending.

    Anybody see where I’m going with this? It’s all WASTED MONEY! Spend that money on health care and we wouldn’t have to be arguing over any of this. Neither of these two guys is going to “fix” the health care system here in America. And I’ll say again, the grass always seems greener on the other side. Think it would be easier somewhere else? Most European countries and our brothers to the north have a similar system. But how about the wait for the test you need…..uh huh, it’ll be 6-9 months to get that done because of the wait.

    And I’m sorry, anyone who thinks that we can just wave a magic wand and give away health insurance….well….if you think times are tough now with $4/gal gas you ain’t seen nothin’! Taxes are going to be so sky high to pay for all of it that Ramen will be a delicacy! Okay, so let’s so we can afford it….who’s going to actually PROVIDE the health care that we’re now giving away? The government is the largest provider of health care as it is and they try to slash the amount they are reimbusing every time we turn around. The last time I checked it took years upon years to get the training and experience necessary to be a health care provider and obscene amounts of money….and that’s going up every year too. No one will be able to afford to become a health care provider.


    It frightens me to think that we really might let government take over our health care. Look how bad they’ve screwed up social security for one, and just about everything else we put them in charge of. It’s really too important to let people who only care about power and prestige make the decision on something like this.

    I don’t think either of these guys has a good solution for this problem. And I still think good ‘ol George Washington had it right when he said the party system was dangerous and a mistake. And I think if free health care sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

  39. cheritycall says:

    hy, Do something for help the hungry people from Africa and India,
    I added this blog about them:

  40. […] me because of its emphasis on employer-sponsored plans and lack of support for people with pre-existing conditions. I’ve been in a position where I was rejected for private coverage and my state’s […]

  41. Adam says:

    So, now that things are mostly settled and this post is a bit out of the main view…can we talk about this? Other than here, I don’t really know where else to do that. I mean, receiving timely responses from you hasn’t always exactly been the case.

    Of course, “No thanks” is an acceptable answer, but I would at least some sort of response – here, email, or otherwise.

    And thanks for the Christmas picture. It looks like you’re letting your hair grow out more. BTW, when was that picture taken? It looks like spring there.

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