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The New Health Law Gets Personal

By Carmel Snyder

I've been talking “health care reform” since 2007 when I traveled all across Florida with a nonpartisan AARP-led initiative. I met hundreds of people and listened to their passionate, often heart-breaking, stories of what it meant to be uninsured or underinsured in this country. This year, I've been involved in providing Affordable Care Act education, helping people understand what the new health law will mean for their families.

After all this, I thought I really understood the impact the Affordable Care Act would have on millions of Americans.

I was wrong.

Carmel Snyder and family
Taken at a Drive to End Hunger race with my daughter, Amanda, and my husband, Ray, in 2011

When my youngest daughter had a stroke last month, we quickly learned what it really means not to have health coverage. She is in her late 20s and worked for a major hotel chain--full time, but not quite enough to qualify for benefits.

The last thing you want to think about when you are dealing with a major medical crisis is how you are going to pay the bills. But in the midst of the doctors and surgeons helping care for our daughter, the hospital’s financial officer came in to her room to talk about just that.

The bills started rolling in, including an almost $30,000 bill for her emergency trip to the hospital in a helicopter. Overwhelming feelings of desperation set in. “Please take care of our child,” we thought and opened our wallets. We knew full well we would not be able to keep up with the cost of her care, which is now close to $500,000.

This week, on Oct. 1, the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace opens. While coverage won’t kick in until Jan. 1, this is one step closer to new programs and resources that can help secure health insurance for many Americans, without destroying their finances. Americans won’t have to be faced with a mountain of bills or lack of medical care if they or a family member gets sick.

The health care law is expanding coverage for men, women and children. The law ensures no one with a preexisting condition is denied coverage and no more dollar limits are placed on your care--meaning your coverage won’t stop if you become sick or injured.

There’s a lot of fear and misinformation about the new health care law. Inform yourself, visit, and celebrate this milestone for all Americans. That’s exactly what I’ll be doing.

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