Ann Romney Wouldn’t Find Free-Market Health Care Without Mitt’s Millions

If Mitt Romney’s wife Ann weren’t wealthy, she might have even more in common with Kelly Gaeckle – a 35-year-old stay-at-home mother and a part-time fitness instructor who lives in Santa Cruz, California – as her insurance wouldn’t cover all the necessary medicaments.

Former Massachusetts Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney takes the stage with his wife Ann to give his victory speech at his headquarters at the Westin at Copley Plaza on Super Tuesday, March 6th, 2012. Photo: BU Interactive News/Flickr

Republican predidential contender’s wife Ann Romney suffesr from multiple sclerosis, as well as Kelly Gaeckle. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic neurological disorder that impairs motor function, cognitive abilities and vision and can cause uncontrollable muscle spasms, fatigue and dizziness. Patients who suffer from it eventually can lose the ability to walk.

But, reports The Huffington Post, Mrs. Romney whose husband is the leading Republican presidential contender, the ex-governor of Massachusetts worth as much as $250 million obviously doesn’t struggle to pay for her treatments, despite the fact that she doesn’t consider herself wealthy. Ann Romney, 62, has also a history of breast cancer.

“Ann Romney would literally be unable to get health insurance in most states in America and if she could get it, she’d pay an unbelievable price,” said Jonathan Gruber, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He added that it probably wouldn’t cover treatments for multiple sclerosis and cancer, he said. Jonathan Gruber assisted in developing both the Massachusetts health reform law signed by then-Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006 and the national law enacted by President Barack Obama two years ago.

At the same time, Kelly Gaeckle, a 35-year-old stay-at-home mother and a part-time fitness instructor who lives in Santa Cruz, California, does have a high-cost insurance plan, but even this plan doesn’t cover many of the medications she needs.

“I am 100 percent certain that if we lost our health insurance we would lose our house. At this point we are living month to month,” Gaeckle’s husband Peter wrote in an e-mail.

Kelly and Peter, who runs his own business, struggle to pay the $1,500 monthly premium on their plan, which covers the couple and their four kids.

They worry that the insurer will raise rates higher, a perfectly legal move under California law, so that they wouldn’t be able to afford it.

The access to health care services for Kelly and Peter and their four children, two of whom have heart problems, is a pressing concern.

According to the estimates from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the direct medical costs of treating M.S. were as high as $27,000 a year for an individual in 2007.

They put just about enough money into a health savings account every year to cover the plan’s high $6,500 deductible, but the funds run out quickly.

While waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision on health care reform, looking at the Gaeckles’ health insurance shows us what free-market health care means to those who are not receiving coverage through a company’s health-care plan or lucky enough to live in Massachusetts.

Reforms in Massachussets that former governor Mitt Romney introduced in the state would cover Gaeckle at a much lower rate than she currently pays.

The Massachusetts law mandates that insurance companies cover everyone, and it sets limits on how much more they can charge people with pre-existing conditions, provides financial assistance for low- and middle-income people, and requires nearly everyone to get coverage.

Access to stable, reliable insurance is very different for people with pre-existing conditions if they don’t get it through work or a government program like Medicare or Medicaid.

Some states even allow insurers to reject customers that are considered to be too costly, or decline to renew their policies after they receive diagnoses of ailments like cancer and M.S. Insurance companies sometimes offer plans to sick people that cover everything except their pre-existing conditions.

Starting in 2014 when the biggest parts of Obama’s health overhaul take effect, people with pre-existing conditions will have access to coverage like what’s available in Massachusetts.

But these rules could be overturned by the Supreme Court or by Mitt Romney and Republicans in Congress if he wins the White House in November, as he promised earlier.

While appearing on “The Tonight Show,” Mitt Romney told host Jay Leno that he would like to guarantee access to insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, but only if they’re already covered. Romney didn’t explain how he would help people who are uninsured because of their medical histories.

A Romney campaign spokeswoman didn’t respond to three e-mails from The Huff Post containing written questions about his national health care proposals or what kind of insurance he and his wife have.

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