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Originally published September 21, 2013 at 8:08 PM | Page modified September 21, 2013 at 8:53 PM

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Law removes a stumbling block to getting health-care coverage

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies cannot deny coverage to adults with pre-existing medical conditions.

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It's so cute that you think you have a clue what you are talking about. MORE
@ Go Old School: Perhaps you should get a basic understanding of what insurance is... MORE

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Who: Laura Waite, 50, married with two adult children.

Circumstance: Laura and her husband, Jay, are auto mechanics and together they own Jay’s Professional Automotive, a car-repair shop in Renton. When they opened the shop in 1997, the couple went without health insurance. Then about two years ago, they applied for coverage. Jay was accepted, but Laura, who has a pre-existing health condition, was not.

Challenge: Laura was born with psoriasis, a genetic autoimmune disease that causes itchy red plaques on her skin. “It bleeds when you scratch it. It’s very unsightly,” she said.

The disease is managed with creams and anti-itching pills, but the cream can cost $225 for a supply that lasts about three months. After paying for her medication out of pocket, and because she was getting older, Laura decided she could no longer go without health insurance.

But because of her pre-existing condition, Laura feared they would need to shutter their family business to get jobs that provided health insurance.

Current coverage:Laura was able to get insurance through the state’s pre-existing-condition insurance plan for about $450 a month. In July, that program ended in Washington and her coverage shifted to a federally managed program. Her monthly premiums shot up to $600, while her husband is paying $350 a month for insurance through Regence.

Options: Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies cannot deny coverage to adults with pre-existing medical conditions. Given that change, Laura plans to search this fall for a new plan, she hopes with lower premiums. “I have faith that the system will balance out given time and public pressure,” she said.

— Lisa Stiffler

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