A Backyard Discussion on the Patient's Bill of Rights

This morning we launched a new section of WhiteHouse.gov dedicated to health reform, a key feature of which is the interactive map with 50 stories from 50 states, giving a snapshot of the kinds of working people all across American who are just starting to get benefits from the President health care reform. A lot of these people, like Gail from New Hampshire whose surprise call from the President was caught in the video below, are benefiting from a series of changes going into full effect this week that have been called the Patient's Bill of Rights. These changes include things like ending discrimination based on pre-existing conditions in kids, allowing kids to stay on their parents' plans until they're 26, making sure y don't lose coverage just for being sick, an end to lifetime lifetime limits and much more.

Gail joined the President in a backyard in Falls Church, Virginia to talk to some other middle class folks about their experiences. One of them was Dawn from Florida:

MS. JOSEPHSON: Thank you. I’m Dawn Josephson from Jacksonville, Florida. And I’ve been a self-employed entrepreneur since 1998. During that time, the majority of those years I didn’t even have insurance, because it was simply too expensive. In 2006, my son Wesley was born. This is Wesley.

THE PRESIDENT: Hey, Wes. Come on over here.

MS. JOSEPHSON: Go say hi. There you go.

THE PRESIDENT: This is Wesley here.

MS. JOSEPHSON: That’s Wesley. He was born in 2006, and that’s when we got -- we finally got health insurance. We’ve had a few different policies over the years, always had something excluded from it -- even something as silly as ear infections. What kid does not get ear infections? So, I mean, silly stuff.

In July of ‘09, he had eye surgery. We discovered he had sudden onset of a condition called strabismus in the eyes, and his right eye needed surgery. So we had the surgery, and less than a year later we said we needed new insurance. What we had was killing us for our premium. And this was right around the time -- right after the act passed.

The insurance company gave us an affordable rate -- we were looking for a very affordable plan. And when she told us we were approved, my immediate response was, “But what’s not covered?” And I knew full well we were going to have an exclusion for my son’s eye. And she said, “You’re covered. Nothing is not covered.” And I said, “Okay, I’m not being very clear here with my questioning. What about my son?” She said, “Yes, your son is covered.” I said, “No, you don’t understand. What if he needs another surgery on his eye? Are you going to pay for it?” They said, “Yes, he’s covered.” And I was shocked. And she said, “We can no longer exclude preexisting conditions for children.”

And it didn’t hit me until later that night when I was talking with my husband as to why she said that, and we started talking about it. And I said, wow, something affected me personally from the government -- was really shocking.

So not only do we have a more affordable plan, but my son is now covered no matter what happens. It is routine for children with strabismus to need multiple surgeries. And I know now that that’s not going to have to come out of our pocket, which was a big fear. So we’re very thankful and very grateful. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done, President Obama, and everything that you’ve -- everyone has done to push this through because it’s really made our life so much less stressful. It’s just an average American family.