Better coverage

May 31, 2009 

I'm glad to see the community rally around Marie Neal, raising money to defray expenses related to her illness (article, May 27). The fact that such a rally is even necessary highlights once again what is wrong with health care in the U.S. I'm sure Joe Neal is already paying several hundred dollars a month in premiums, above what his employer pays. Yet the family is still faced with $115,000 in expenses not covered by their health insurance.

Let's flash forward six years. Marie has had her transplant, made a full recovery and is graduating from college. She can no longer be covered as a dependent on her father's policy. If Marie doesn't get a job that offers group health insurance benefits, her premiums for a personal policy are likely to be prohibitively expensive, thanks to her medical history. And this will be for a policy that 1) will not cover anything related to the liver disease or transplant because it's a pre-existing condition, and 2) will have all claims denied on the basis that they are somehow related to said liver disease or transplant.

The Neals and the rest of us would be well-served if all those offering their financial support were to also contact their representatives in Washington and demand significant health care reform. Health insurance that is both comprehensive and affordable should be a right, not a privilege.

Jenni Elion


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