Dr. Shaun Carpenter, 41, is a board certified emergency physician in the New Orleans area. He was part of a rescue team that helped evacuate critical patients during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Dr. Carpenter is a family man, father of three children with another on the way. He also owns his own business, a private medical practice, and has several patents pending for wound-healing products.
Carpenter says that hospitals tend to treat ER physicians as independent contractors, so he was not allowed to join his hospital’s group health insurance policy. He and his family elected to obtain coverage through his wife’s employer.
Shaun Carpenter is also a patient. A few years ago he was diagnosed with a serious blood disorder called hereditary hemochromatosis.
“Hemochromatosis causes extra iron to gradually build up in the body’s tissues and organs. After many years, the excess iron becomes toxic—causing a slow death where the body literally rusts from the inside out,” he says in Iron Men, a documentary about the disease. He discovered that he had the painful condition after his brother was diagnosed with it.
Hereditary hemochromatosis is treatable and can be controlled through diet, but it can also get you labeled as carrying a pre-existing condition.
Add to the hemochromatosis, which is now under control, Dr. Carpenter has been stricken with cancer twice. He suffered and beat both lymphoma and melanoma, in 2003 and 2005, respectively.
Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act, came packaged with lofty promises. President Obama said his law was supposed to make denials of insurance based on pre-existing conditions a thing of the past. President Obama specifically promised that Americans would no longer be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions, along with promising that if we like our doctors and current health care plans, we can keep them.
So imagine Dr. Carpenter’s shock when he received the news that he and his family were losing their health insurance at the end of this year.