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Don’t take the risk young people — sign up for Obama’s health care plan: Mitchell

Updated: April 19, 2014 6:26AM



Barring an extension from President Barack Obama’s administration, March 31 is the deadline to get health insurance.

Those who can afford to get health insurance but don’t get coverage may face a fine.

Because Obamacare has been in the firm grip of partisan politics since its inception, it’s not surprising that foes of the health care reform are boasting they would rather pay the fine.

That sounds like a good way to show your dislike for the health care reform law — until something goes awry.

After all, there’s only so much one can do to guard against a debilitating disease or life-altering accident.

About 114,000 people in Illinois have already signed up for the new health insurance polices. But the administration is making its final push to attract individuals between ages 18 to 34, the group seen as the key to offsetting the higher costs of insuring older people.

To that end, Get Covered Illinois posted on Facebook a humorous video of a young woman recounting the details of a bachelorette party that sent an uninsured bride-to-be to the emergency room.

The story ends with the woman saying her friend’s hospital bills cost almost as much as her wedding.

To young people, that might sound preposterous, but it isn’t.

Health insurance gives you options that improve quality of life when coping with a serious illness.

For example, USA Today recently reported that more breast cancer survivors are opting for reconstruction, primarily because of a 1998 federal law that requires group insurance plans that cover mastectomies also cover breast reconstruction.

I was struck by the age of the women who shared their stories with USA Today. One woman was only 21 when she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Another woman was 30 when she had to go through chemotherapy, radiation and reconstruction.

After a certain age, you figure your breasts have served their purpose.

But these young women were just getting started.

Sandy Goldberg, founder of A Silver Lining Foundation, said she doesn’t expect Obamacare to reduce the need for organizations that provide services to uninsured women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Any type of health assistance program is a very good idea, but we are busier than ever,” Goldberg said.

“People don’t understand [Obamacare]. There are changes all the time. There is a tremendous amount of confusion. The intention is good, but the execution is not,” she said.

Earlier this month, Goldberg launched the Survive to Thrive program to provide follow-up treatment and assessment to breast cancer survivors.

“Survivors should be coming back on a regular basis to make sure they don’t have a reoccurrence. But if the money isn’t there and you don’t have insurance, you aren’t going to take care of it,” Goldberg said.

The Survive to Thrive pilot program has partnered with both the University of Illinois Medical Center and Advocate Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn to provide diagnostic services to men and women previously diagnosed with breast cancer.

About 30-40 percent of the people who turn to A Silver Lining are African Americans, and 35 percent are Latina, Goldberg told me.

“The people that reach out to Silver Lining are aware of the fact that they are teetering on the edge of falling through the cracks,” she said.

It is a huge blessing, of course, that organizations like A Silver Lining Foundation have made it a mission to serve uninsured women.

But as Billie Holiday once sang: “God bless the child that’s got his own.”

Go to GetCoveredIllinois.gov for additional info on the Affordable Care Act.

Contact A Silver Lining Foundation at (877) 924-1126 to learn more about the Survive to Thrive program.

Email: marym@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MaryMitchellCST



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