Myrna Rodriguez Previte, a breast cancer survivor from Cleveland, shares her story about her struggle to get health insurance. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36 in 2003; she needed surgery and six months of radiation. As she tells it, she was facing a future of bills totaling almost $500,000 for treatment, and seven insurance companies turned her down because of her pre-existing condition. As a self-employed commercial real estate broker, she was responsible for her own health insurance but she couldn't get coverage.
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Fortunately for her, Myrna was finally able to get coverage through her new husband's plan at work. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Myrna, and myriad women like her, soon won't ever have to worry about an insurance company denying coverage for a pre-existing condition. Because starting in 2014, it will be illegal for insurers to deny coverage to anyone due to a pre-existing condition.
"Health care reform would have been the angel I was looking for," Myrna says.
Currently, the law is providing coverage for nearly 50,000 people with high-risk pre-existing conditions through the Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan. This means that previously uninsured Americans who were locked out of the coverage system because of a pre-existing condition can now get the care they need. And soon no insurance company will be allowed to discriminate against someone with a pre-existing condition.
Now, Myrna is an active advocate for women's health with Amigas Unidas (Friends United), taking part in the bilingual peer-to-peer grassroots volunteer program where Latina women can educate other women in their communities about breast cancer – and how to get the care they need. "Things are changing with health care," Myrna says, "which is positive for me, not only for my own story, but for the women I actually go out and fight for as well. The health care law is about women like me."