Lufkin woman looking forward to Thursday's health care changes

Sabrina Hartsfield
Sabrina Hartsfield
Memorial Health System of East Texas CEO Bryant Krenek
Memorial Health System of East Texas CEO Bryant Krenek

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Sabrina Hartsfield has Krohn's Disease and inflammatory arthritis. She also has no insurance.

"[I] had insurance, got pregnant with my last little girl, got sick and had to be taken off my feet, had to be off on leave and I couldn't go back to work from having my baby and then the insurance dropped and I couldn't pay the insurance because I wasn't working," explained Hartsfield.

Without treatment every six to eight weeks, she'll be hospitalized.

"I was on the program where they send the medicine to the doctor, then the doctor sends the medicine to the hospital and then the hospital has to make up a payment arrangement to pay for the treatment," she said.

Starting Thursday, under the health care reform, insurance plans can't deny coverage to children under 19. Hartsfield will have to wait until 2014, when the same rule applies to adults.

"It's a big burden off of you, knowing that you're going to be covered regardless of anything," Hartsfield said.

"Having coverage for the first time, that's certainly going to be a benefit to those folks," said Memorial Health System of East Texas CEO Bryant Krenek.

Companies won't be able to drop patients if they become sick.  It's good news for Hartsfield and her two daughters.

"I won't have to worry about having to sit there and wonder how I'm going to pay this in order to get this medicine," she said.

Krenek said premiums may go up because companies will have to cover the cost somehow.

Krenek said hospitals like his won't see a lot of changes in health care until 2014 when about 17,000 Angelina County residents will have extended coverage under the reform, but that's just 39 months away.

"The challenge is going to be if there's going to be enough physicians who are going to accept that new population and their insurance card," said Krenek.

Hartsfield is ready for help to come because her disease isn't going away.

Children can stay on their parents insurance until they're 26.

Also under the reform, preventative services like mammograms and colonoscopies have to be covered under new insurance plans and there won't be any monetary limit on hospital stays or essential benefits over the patient's lifetime.

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