Texas newborn denied health insurance over pre-existing condition

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramMarch 26, 2010 

At birth, Houston Tracy let out a single loud cry before his father cut the cord and handed him to a nurse.

Instantly, Doug Tracy knew something was wrong with his son.

"He wasn't turning pink fast enough," Tracy said. "When they listened to his chest, they realized he had an issue."

That turned out to be d-transposition of the great arteries, a defect in which the two major vessels that carry blood away from the heart are reversed. The condition causes babies to turn blue.

Surgery would correct it, but within days of Houston's birth March 15, Tracy learned that his application for health insurance to cover his son had been denied. The reason: a pre-existing condition.

"How can he have a pre-existing condition if the baby didn't exist until now?" Tracy asked.

New federal legislation that will prevent insurance companies from denying children coverage based on a pre-existing condition comes too late for the Tracys. The legislation, passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama this week, won't go into effect until September.

But Houston, who is hospitalized at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, needs coverage now.

Without surgery, babies with this condition often die soon after birth, although some may live as long as a year, said Dr. Steve Muyskens, a pediatric cardiologist.

"In his case, we had to intervene in the first days of life," Muyskens said.

To read the complete article, visit www.star-telegram.com.

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