Mom's Hospital Bill Reveals the Potentially Devastating Effect of Trumpcare

June 26th 2017

Mike Rothschild

One of the more complex aspects of the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that it will bring back lifetime limits on the amount insurance companies can pay out on a patient's care.

A mom decided to recently post on Twitter exactly how devastating a lifetime limit would be for her family.

Alison Chandra tweeted the bill for her son, Ethan's most recent hospital stay, showing approximately $230,000 worth of charges reduced to only a $500 co-pay, thanks to her husband's insurance.

The ACA mandated that "essential health benefits" are covered in full, which includes hospital stays, prescription drugs, and long-term treatments. However, under the Republican plan, states can waive these benefits, returning to a time when most employer plans imposed annual and lifetime limits. As the Atlantic put it, these changes mean that "those with the most serious chronic health conditions (and their families) will be at increased risk of financial devastation and even bankruptcy."

Ethan was born with the rare genetic disorder heterotaxy syndrome, meaning his organs developed on the wrong side of his body. This has led to an almost endless series of surgeries needed to correct defects, remove extra organs and to essentially rebuild his heart. Chandra told CNN that Ethan was born with "five or so spleens of dubious function."

This entails hospital stays lasting for weeks at a time, with all of the bloated, incomprehensible hospital costs that come with it. With just the most recent bill hitting nearly a quarter of a million dollars, a return to lifetime caps on care would likely be crushing to both Ethan's health and his parent's finances. And this won't be the last major surgery Ethan has to endure, either.

Beyond major surgeries, Chandra details the more mundane, but no less expensive, aspects of Ethan's care.

This includes regular appointments with numerous specialized doctors, frequent trips to the ER for complications and due to Ethan's depressed immune system being unable to fight common infections, and numerous necessary daily medications.

Like the surgeries, these are part of the essential health benefits that states could opt out of, and insurance companies could impose annual and lifetime limits on the amount paid out to cover all of them.

"My fear is that this bill comes into play and suddenly essential health benefits are no longer covered, like hospitalization, prescription medications," Chandra told CNN.

And with Ethan requiring care for the rest of his life, he would likely blow past his lifetime limit in a short amount of time

For Chandra and her family, the stakes of the health care battle couldn't be higher.

The life of her son literally hangs in the balance, and she finished her tweet thread by putting a small human face on the issue, describing the sweet boy who is alive only thanks to advanced, expensive medical care.

Chandra's thread quickly went viral, and other parents began posting their own children who would run into lifetime caps thanks to the new Republican bill.

As of now, the Republican health care bill is still evolving and being modified. But the waiving of essential health benefits has been a key component of everything Republicans have tried to do with the Obamacare repeal since the initial House bill failed in March.

Hopefully, this one family being open and honest about their child's hospital bill should be all that's required to make people realize the truly devastating effect this could have on children and families across the country.