KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Personal Stories Highlight How Reform Will Affect Some Individuals

News outlets are focusing on the stories of individual consumers to explain how health care reform legislation may affect the lives and health of people around the nation.

PBS NewsHour reports on a young uninsured person, Samantha Young. She was billed $7,000 for an emergency room visit after a bladder infection -- which happened while she was without insurance. She was then turned down for insurance coverage and wasn't offered it by her employer because she didn't work full-time. "Under health care reform, the insurers that turned Long down because of her hospital stay would have had to accept her. That's because proposed regulations in both the House and Senate bills bar insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. … Not only would Samantha be able to obtain insurance coverage, she would be required to. Both bills contain an individual mandate - a requirement that all individuals must obtain insurance, with very few exceptions for those who can't afford it."

The NewsHour also looks at the case of Jordan Resnick, a real estate settlement company owner in Bethesda, Md. "Both the House and Senate bills include a requirement that employers provide insurance for their employees - something that Resnick already does. … But in fact, Resnick's company is small enough that he would be exempted from that requirement. In the Senate bill, companies with fewer than 50 employees would be exempt, and in the House bill companies with payrolls below $500,000 would be exempt" (Winerman, 12/7).

Meanwhile, ProPublica reports on Sarah Goodwin, 25, who became sick and had to go on Medicaid after running out of savings to cover her health care bills. Only 15 states allow poor childless adults such as Goodwin to enroll in Medicaid. "Goodwin has seen the two sides of Medicaid: first in Maine, where the program didn't meet her needs, then in Pennsylvania, where it did. Some states offer coverage for children from families with incomes as high as three times the federal poverty line. Other states cut off eligibility at 100 percent of the poverty line." Federal changes would extend Medicaid to cover everyone up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line - about $14,000 for a single person (Shankman and Pierce, 12/7).

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