Family fears possible healthcare changes could leave child without care
BATON ROUGE- A family in Baton Rouge is worried that possible changes to the Affordable Care Act could leave their toddler without care.
Caroline Hammatt has a lung condition that affects her heart. Her care is not cheap.
From a distance, Caroline Hammatt looks like any other three-year-old her age. She loves to play outdoors, and play with their new Scotty Dog puppy, Maggie.
"Her interests are the same," Caroline's mom, Kristi Hammatt said. "Her intellect is the same. Her milestones are the same as any other three-year-old."
But, a rare condition called Idiopathic Pulmonary Hypertension sets her apart. It affects less than 500 kids per year nationwide. Her family first noticed something wasn't right when she was 18-months-old.
"When she plays with her friends, she is out of breath sooner," Hammatt said. "She can't do the activities they do."
We're two weeks into the new year and the Hammatt family has already met their yearly $6,000 per year health insurance deductible with a vile of drugs costing $12,000 each. The medicine keeps her alive through a small port that is fed into her back. It helps open the arteries between her heart and lungs so oxygen and blood flows better.
"I have someone's car in my hand every month," Hammatt said.
Last year, insurance paid out nearly $187,000 for Caroline's treatment and drugs. The Hammatt family is worried that her pre-existing condition could leave her without the drugs she needs if changes to the Affordable Care Act take place. It's why they've been trying to get the word out about their situation to lawmakers and others who have pledged to repeal it. As this loving family looks at what a joy it is to have Caroline around, they can't imagine choosing who they'd spend their money on if something were to happen and Caroline didn't get the insurance have coverage she needs to stay alive.
"At $187,000 per year, you would have to be in a very high income bracket for that to be comfortable for you to pay out-of-pocket every year," Hammatt said. "Eventually we would be bankrupt."
The family is also concerned that caps to insurance could max out if those were to come back. Currently, the Affordable Care Act doesn't have caps, which allow sick children, like Caroline, to get the medications they need no matter the cost.
A hash tag is going around on social media, #imwithcaroline and #Carolinestrong.