Sarah Lewis is fed up with American health care: “I’ve completely removed myself from the system,” she said. “I don’t want to be a patient anymore.”
Lewis, a 55-year-old single mother of two daughters, has been through the wringer. It started with a diagnosis of anal cancer in September 2010. Then came the denials from her insurance company, the fights with the insurer, the hospitals and the doctors over money, and the debt collectors chasing at least $20,000 that she owes. Not to mention the grueling chemotherapy and radiation therapy that, so far, have saved her life. She ultimately gave up on health insurance this year.
“I’m hoping that I don’t get sick again or anything happens because I’m trying to stay out of the system because the system failed me,” said Lewis, who lives in Dover, N.H., and was self-employed as an book indexer but has not worked since she got sick.
The system will likely fail Americans like Lewis again and again, if the Supreme Court overturns President Barack Obama’s health care reform law next week. Without its rules that will prohibit health insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions starting in 2014, Lewis and others who are sick or have suffered serious illnesses in the past can be shut out of the health insurance market. As many as 122 million working-age Americans have pre-existing conditions that could get them rejected by health insurance companies, according to a Government Accountability Office analysis issued in March.