March 21, 2011

Happy Birthday to You

Everything Changes is throwing a 1-year-old birthday party for the Affordable Care Act. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know what’s in the bill – you’re not alone. Our big, broken health care system needed a fabulous new makeover; the changes are welcome, yet complex.

I’ve made a cliff notes version of the main parts of the bill that are already in effect and impact our freedom to access care. Please read, check back, and share the info with your friends and families so we can all better understand and celebrate our new healthcare freedoms and rights.

 FREEDOM TO ACCESS CARE!

Caps
No more caps. Insurers can’t set dollar limits on your lifetime benefits coverage, no exceptions. Annual benefits caps have been raised to $750,000 and will also be fully eliminated in 2014. Big Darn Deal = Cancer patients don’t have to worry about rationing their care for fear of being cut off.

Kiddos
Insurers are required to provide coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions. Applies to kids 19 and under. Big Darn Deal = Have you ever paid out of pocket for asthma treatment? Enough said.

Young’ins
Young adults can be covered under parental insurance plans until age 26, including married young adults, students, and non-students. Big Darn Deal = Most young adults are not slackers, we just can’t afford insurance while job searching and working entry level jobs with few benefits.

U-Turns
Before, if an insurance company got hit with a big claim, they could find an unintentional error on your application (even from years ago) and use it as a basis to make a big u-turn and deny you coverage. This u-turn is called a rescission and they can’t do it anymore. Big Darn Deal = Your mom is diagnosed with breast cancer and her insurance company can’t deny her coverage because she forgot to mention an ingrown toenail on her insurance application in 1999.

Pleas Please
You’ll now have the right to appeal decisions your insurance company makes about your health care (such as refusing coverage) to an independent, third party reviewer. Big Darn Deal = Insurance companies have to be accountable to someone besides themselves.

X-Change
What the hell are insurance exchanges? Think of exchanges as insurance shopping malls especially designed for individuals and small business that have a hard time finding insurance. The government is building the mall and will only let stores set up shop if they agree to treat individuals and small business shoppers fairly. Big Darn Deal = Insurance companies can’t rob blind a huge part of America’s workforce – individuals and small businesses.  Instead they’ll compete for our business with plans that are more affordable, and easier to understand and compare.

Do any of these changes impact you as a cancer patient or loved one?  How so? Share your thoughts and comments below.

Check back again for ongoing conversation about access to health insurance at everythingchangesbook.com.

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March 07, 2011

Having Children After Cancer

The thought of carrying a child for nine months and having them pass through my crotch is about as appealing to me as having a recurrence of my cancer.  I’ve flat out never wanted to become pregnant or be a mom.

When I met my husband, I told him on date number two that I had cancer.  On date number three I told him I didn’t want to have kids.  I added the caveat that if I ever changed my mind, I’d want to adopt.  Agreed.   That was six years ago and we are still happily “childless by choice.”

But what choices would I have available to me if I do someday change my mind and as a cancer patient want to adopt or even foster a child?  Cancer conferences, organizations, or projects dealing with family planning dominate the issue with an often exclusive focus on fertility. Adoption is the bastard child of the cancer world. It drives me up the wall, and this is why Gina M. Shaw’s new book is a welcome addition to my cancer book library.

Gina is the author of the new book Having Children After Cancer (Ten-Speed Press). ‘Be My Baby’ is a forty-seven page chapter on cancer and adoption – one of the most in-depth sources I’ve read on the subject.  Like the rest of her book, it is laden with straight-up, indispensable information for both men and women facing cancer and planning a family.  A medical writer, breast cancer survivor, and mother of three kids (both adopted and biological), Gina’s book is not a cutesy bun-in-the-oven romp through baby land.  A writer after my own heart, Gina gives readers a serious education on the legal, financial, medical, and administrative side of family planning.    Having Children After Cancer enables survivors to read about adoption as a valid family planning choice along side fertility preservation, IVF, and surrogacy.    Whether you are recently diagnosed, a childhood cancer survivor, or just out of treatment, Having Children After Cancer is the family planning go-to book.

Have you thought about cancer and family planning?  What is the most challenging part about it?  If you’ve had a kid since your cancer diagnosis, share your story in the comment section so others can learn from your experience.

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