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Voices of Health Reform: James’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 James from Texas.

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series where readers can meet average Americans already benefiting from the health reform law, the Affordable Care Act.

James Howard from Katy, Texas was diagnosed with brain cancer in March, 2010 and later thought his lack of health insurance was a death sentence. One of his prescription drugs alone cost $10,000 a week and he had no idea how he would afford the costs of prescriptions, doctor’s visits, tests and treatments. James searched, but could not find affordable health insurance until he discovered the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. Here’s how the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan works:

The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan is a bridge to 2014, when the health insurance exchanges will offer people like James and small businesses a competitive marketplace where they can shop for more affordable insurance based on price and quality. In addition, in 2014, denying coverage or charging higher premiums based on a pre-existing condition will be prohibited.

But we know that people like James need immediate relief. Between now and 2014, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan offers health insurance to Americans who have been uninsured for at least six months and have a pre-existing condition or have been denied health coverage because of their health condition. Depending on where you live, the plan is operated by either your state or the Department of Health and Human Services.

James is grateful for the coverage the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan offers and says that without it, he would not have been able to continue his treatments.

Tonight, you’ll be able to spot James as he watches the State of the Union address here in Washington with First Lady Michelle Obama and other Americans from across the country. You can listen to his story now:


Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President for Special Projects.