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Voices of Health Reform: Cathy’s Story

This series, Voices of Health Reform, highlights how Americans are already benefiting from the health reform law, the Affordable Care Act. This story is about Cathy from Ohio.

For too long, too many Americans struggled in the health insurance marketplace. Double digit premium increases with no recourse or accountability made it difficult for families to afford the cost of care but also left them with no other option. Americans could be denied coverage if they had a pre-existing condition or have their coverage cancelled or capped when they got sick. And high costs were making it difficult for businesses to expand and create jobs, and to compete in a global economy.  

If you haven’t struggled in the health care system yourself, you’ve probably met someone who has – seniors who struggled to pay for their prescription drugs, families whose children were denied coverage for a pre-existing condition and business owners who wanted to provide high benefits to their employees, but just couldn’t afford it.

Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act is already changing all of this.  And over the coming days, you’ll have a chance to hear directly from some of those Americans who are already benefiting through a new online feature, Voices of Health Reform. Every day, you can hear from average Americans about how the new law is making the health care system better for them.  

Today, we’re highlighting Cathy Lynn Howell Allen from Marblehead, OH. Cathy is a healthy and energetic small business owner, but before the Affordable Care Act became law, she couldn’t get insurance because she had a pre-existing condition. Considered “uninsurable” because of a history of Systemic Lupus, Cathy had been denied private insurance several times though she has required very little medical treatment over the last two decades.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Cathy recently purchased private health insurance for the first time in many years. She is now enrolled in the Ohio High Risk Pool – a new program created by the health reform law that provides affordable private insurance options for people with pre-existing conditions between now and 2014. And in 2014, discriminating against ANYONE with pre-existing conditions like Cathy will be illegal.


Cathy now has peace of mind and less worry about losing her business or retirement because of the financial instability that goes with being uninsured.

And Cathy is just one of the millions Americans with more freedom and control in their health care choices thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Thanks to the law, families are freed from worrying about losing their insurance or having it capped unexpectedly if someone is an accident or becomes sick. The health reform law frees Americans from the fear of insurance companies raising premiums by double digits with no recourse or accountability. And it frees Americans from discrimination when insurance companies deny women health insurance because they are pregnant, or refuse to provide coverage to children who are born with disabilities.

Be sure to check back each day for more Voices of Health Reform and to learn more about the Affordable Care Act, visit

Note: Today, the Department of Health and Human Services released a new report indicating that anywhere from 50 to 129 million (19 to 50 percent of) Americans under age 65 have some type of pre-existing condition and would be at risk of losing coverage or not getting it at all without the Affordable Care Act. Read the full report.

Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President for Special Projects.