"I'm not a candidate for any for type of indigent program, and without insurance they would not have put me in ICU," she said.
"I would have gone into cardiac arrest and probably died," she added. Emergency rooms must treat the uninsured, "but they are only required to get you stable. And then they release you and tell you to go to the health department."
A government report this year found that people in the pre-existing condition plan tended to be middle-aged patients with no access to employer coverage and with medical conditions that require continuous care. The top five diagnoses: cancer, heart disease, degenerative bone diseases, organ failure requiring a transplant and hemophilia.
If the federal law is struck down, some state officials are considering taking the patients into their own, separate, state high-risk insurance pools. Wisconsin, for example, has decided that PCIP enrollees would be automatically accepted into its pool. But not all states have them. In the 35 that do, premiums would generally be higher, and there might be waiting periods.
Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have long favored insurance pools for high-risk patients. And Congress could take emergency action to keep PCIP going. But no assurances have been offered. Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, says Republicans are ready to work on "step-by-step, commonsense" approaches.
Watson says she still disagrees with Obama's requirement that individuals have health insurance, either through an employer, a government program or by purchasing their own plan. "I approve of some of it," she said of the law, "I don't approve of the mandatory ... insurance."
But she doesn't want to go back to depending on the emergency room.
"I have no problem paying my insurance and paying my copays," she said. "I just think I should have the right to purchase insurance."
Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan: https://www.pcip.gov/
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