March 21, 2023

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.


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.

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 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.

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.

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

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  1. Sam Says:
    March 21st, 2011 at 2:43 PM


    As always, thanks for being a voice for the young adult cancer community and for making all of this information accessible and understandable!

    Young adults with a history of cancer have certainly gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to insurance - at The SAMFund, we hear from thousands each year, many of whom are facing overwhelming stacks of bills due to huge premiums and out-of-pocket costs, with little to no money available to pay them. What’s even worse is that many forego follow-up care because of the costs and the shame they feel for having outstanding bills.

    It’s scary stuff… hopefully these reforms will make it easier for young adults to get, keep, and pay for health insurance coverage.

    Thanks for all you do -

  2. Becky Says:
    March 21st, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    Soon, I will finally be able to purchase my own health insurance. I can’t wait to have a choice!!

  3. Atlanta Roofing Says:
    March 24th, 2011 at 12:32 AM

    As with the daily necessities, medical care, if ordinary people can not afford medical expenses, it is not responsible to the taxpayers.

  4. Atlanta Roofing Says:
    March 24th, 2011 at 12:33 AM

    It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. But in the twelve months since it was signed, the law has already given Americans more freedom and control over their health care choices. The law’s key goals for America’s families: better benefits and better health.

  5. Katie Schwartz Says:
    April 6th, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    This is a big damn deal. Finally, we get some reform, some relief and quality care without losing everything (financially).

    I have been swallowed by medical debt and the cost of insurance. Knowing that it’s going to come to an end means absolutely everything to me. FINALLY, a silver lining.

    Excellent post, Kairol! Thanks for this.


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