My wife has advanced colo-rectal cancer. She was diagnosed in 2008 when our three children were 3, 2 and 9 months old.
At the time the only insurance available to her was California’s Major Risk Insurance Program (MRIP). This was a program designed at the state level to address the insurance needs of people like my wife who have pre-existing conditions (she happens to have a genetic mutation that can lead to colo-rectal cancer). MRIP was better than nothing, but it was paltry: it had an annual cap of $75,000 per year. That first year, we blew through this cap by February. Same thing the second and third years, 2009 and 2010. All the rest of our medical bills — for multiple surgeries, hospital stays, chemotherapy, radiation, CT-scans, etc. — we had to pay entirely out of pocket. In 2011, to our huge relief, the ACA came into effect. Amid all the pain and the heartache and soothing our children and long days and nights and fears for the future, we at least knew that we had help with the expenses. We felt our country had our backs.
For many families, if the GOP repeals the ACA it means that they will be thrown back on state programs like MRIP again, at best. Politicians will be able to say proudly that everyone with a pre-existing condition can still get insurance! But without the structure of the ACA and its mandate they will know full well that these insurance programs will severely limit what they cover. Private insurance plans would simply not have large enough pools to do better. State programs would lack funding. People like us would be left in the lurch once again.