A nice story about how Obamacare helped this family. But after the excerpt, I want to ask a few hard questions for folks. I'm not sure how I feel about it, so am curious what you all think. From Salon:
Mason is my 14-year-old son, who is adorable and funny, and happens to have a very stubborn and large brain tumor. We discovered the tumor four years ago, and we have been monitoring and treating it with the help of some of the finest doctors around. Mason has lived a somewhat “normal” life, despite frequent MRIs and even chemotherapy. He did his homework and hung out with friends until the fall of 2010 when his headaches became debilitating. Scans revealed that Mason’s tumor had grown for the first time since we had discovered it. Then days before we were scheduled to meet with the neurosurgeon to discuss a surgery we had tried to avoid, Mason had a massive cerebral hemorrhage.I've read some confusing things about if and when the lifetime and annual limits expire. It seems some are grandfathered in and won't go away. I wish this was all so much clearer (and yes I read the online material available, and it's still not clear if my plan's annual limits will be going away or not).
My boy spent 65 days in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at one of Northern California’s best hospitals; during that time he underwent two brain surgeries, along with operations to insert a tracheostomy and a feeding tube. We stayed with him 24 hours a day, my husband, Alan, and I, his grandparents, and his 16-year-old brother, watching his oxygen levels on a screen, tracking his heart rate in beats per minute. The doctors kept him sedated, but every morning they turned down the propofol (Michael Jackson’s drug of choice) when the neurosurgeons came to do their examination. Three to five doctors circled Mason’s bed, one of them yelled his name into his ear. When he didn’t wake up right away, they apologetically pinched him and yelled louder.
When I was alone with Mason I put a white earbud into his ear and tuned my iPod to a song I knew he liked, “Airplanes” by B.O.B. I said it was time to wake up. “You need to come back, now,” I told him in my firm mommy voice.
During our first three weeks of hospitalization Mason racked up $1.1 million in medical bills. I worried about butting up against the $5 million lifetime limit on Mason’s health insurance policy. We had a good policy with a good company. We always paid our premiums on time and in full. But Mason wasn’t getting out of the hospital at any time soon, and there were months of rehab ahead. My then 13-year-old son would have reached his lifetime limit of health insurance had such limits not been eliminated by Obamacare on April 1, 2011. That date felt like a birthday or anniversary, something to be celebrated, when it finally arrived and we weren’t yet dropped by our health insurance company.
On another matter, I was talking to a friend the other day about these lifetime limits, and he asked an interesting question that I really couldn't answer. Why should we be paying more than $5m to save someone's life. My gut told me we shouldn't let anyone die, but is that really true at any cost? Should insurance be required to cover $10m to save a person, even $100m? The Republicans like to talk about their nonexistent death panels in the health care bill, but does anyone have a good argument, least of all the Republicans, for why insurance, either private or public, should spend an unlimited amount of money to save one life? I'd be curious to hear the arguments.