Byron York did some digging into one of Barack Obama’s oft-told anecdotes about health insurers — and discovers that the facts differ significantly
from Obama’s version. Obama explained his passion for health-insurance reform during the presidential campaign as a product of the fight his mother endured to get coverage for her eventually-fatal illness, uterine and ovarian cancer.
Looks like Obama had a little trouble with the truth and truth is stranger than fiction. To sum it up, Obama told a falsehood about his mother. You can read the whole story with the link at thebottom of the post but to cut to the quick, she indeed had health insurance. The only thing she was denied was Disability Insurance which she attempted to purchase after her diagnosis with Ovarian and Uterine Cancer.
In November 1994, Dunham went to an Indonesian doctor who diagnosed appendicitis. As Dunham debated whether to leave the country for surgery, she called her boss at Development Alternatives. “You’ve got health insurance, that’s taken care of,” the boss told her. “We can cover the airfare.”
Obama’s take on reality
“The insurance companies were saying, ‘Maybe there’s a pre-existing condition and we don’t have to pay your medical bills,’ ” Obama said in a debate with Republican opponent Sen. John McCain in October 2008.
“She was in her hospital room looking at insurance forms because the insurance company said that maybe she had a pre-existing condition and maybe they wouldn’t have to reimburse her for her medical bills,” Obama added in January 2008.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama often discussed his mother’s struggle with cancer. Ann Dunham spent the months before her death in 1995, Obama said, fighting with insurance companies that sought to deny her the coverage she needed to pay for treatment.”I remember in the last month of her life, she wasn’t thinking about how to get well, she wasn’t thinking about coming to terms with her own mortality, she was thinking about whether or not insurance was going to cover the medical bills and whether our family would be bankrupt as a consequence,” Obama said in September 2007.
It was a simple and powerful story, one Obama would tell many more times as president during the national health care debate. But now we’re learning the real story of Ann Dunham’s health coverage is not quite what her son made it out to be.
The news is in “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother,” a generally admiring new biography written by former New York Times reporter Janny Scott.