Why Health Care Reform Was Necessary: A Good Reminder

A fine article from Lucia Graves at the National Journal:

To put Obamacare victims’ strife in perspective, let’s take a trip down memory lane. You know, the golden years of American health care in … oh, let’s say 2007, back when you could be denied coverage for something as benign as acne or as mundane as pregnancy.

Back then, anecdotes about people who were denied coverage abounded. They included this 12-year-old boy who died in 2007 from an abscessed tooth after his family’s Medicaid lapsed. And this 17-year-old boy whose insurance was revoked after he tested positive for HIV. This woman who was denied coverage for breast cancer because she wasn’t diagnosed at the correct clinic. And this woman whose double mastectomy was denied after her insurance company learned she had visited a dermatologist for acne treatment the year before. Ah, yes, those were the days!

For those who put more stock in headlines, here are a few that help convey the state of the American health care system back in its heyday.

From The Washington Post in 2009: “Acne, Pregnancy Among Disqualifying Conditions.” From the Associated Press that same year: “Worker Health Care Costs Soar.” From USA Today in 2007: “People Left Holding Bag When Policies Revoked.” And from The New York Times in 2004: “Cost of Benefits Cited as Factor in Slump in Jobs.” And in 2002: “Hard Decisions for Employers as Costs Soar in Health Care.”

It’s not all anecdotes and headlines. She goes from there to a series of links to policy papers and the like.

We are currently in the early stages of what will likely be a decade-long transition to a new model. There will be bumps along the way. There are some now. But it’s important to remember why there was such a hue and cry for reform in the first place.