By Lisa Schencker, Chicago Tribune
December 17, 2016 – 2:05 PM

One of the first things Tracy Trovato did – once she overcame the shock of learning her 42-year-old, marathon-training husband had leukemia – was look through their health insurance documents.

She dug up one paper that said the plan would pay no more than $1 million for medical services in a lifetime. The Chicago woman and her husband, Carlo, called their insurance company in a panic.

“Our first question was, ‘Can we take care of leukemia in a million dollars?’” Tracy Trovato said. The woman on the other end of the line reassured them, telling them, “The president took care of that, we don’t have maximum caps anymore,” Trovato recalled.

“Those were among the sweetest words,” said Trovato, whose insurance is through her husband’s employer.

Now, however, that ban on lifetime limits, along with other health insurance protections, has been thrown into question with the election of Donald Trump, who’s promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

In recent weeks, much attention has focused on what repealing and replacing the law might mean for the roughly 1 million Illinois residents and nearly 20 million Americans who get health insurance through the law’s exchanges or Medicaid expansion.

But Obamacare is far broader than that. Scrapping the law also could change how health insurance works for 6.8 million Illinois residents and 156 million Americans who had coverage last year through employers, as estimated by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

“We view everything as being threatened right now,” said Kathy Waligora, director of the health reform initiative of EverThrive Illinois.

In addition to banning lifetime coverage caps, the Affordable Care Act lets consumers keep children on their plans until age 26; requires companies with at least 50 employees to offer coverage; and makes preventive care, such as health screenings, flu shots, breast-feeding supplies and contraception, free to those with insurance.

We view everything as being threatened right now.

Kathy Waligora, director of the health reform initiative of EverThrive Illinois

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