Timmy Morrison was delivered by emergency C-section, weighing in at 3 pounds, 9 ounces. Doctors put him under anesthesia within a week and into surgery within a month. Some of the contents of his stomach sometimes made their way to his lungs. Workers in the intensive care unit frequently needed to resuscitate him. He arrived seven weeks premature — but, in a way, just at the right time. Six months before Timmy was born, President Barack Obama signed a sweeping health care law that would come to bear his name.
Six days before Timmy’s birth, the Obama administration began to phase in a provision that banned insurance companies from limiting how much they would pay for any individual’s medical bills over his or her lifetime.
At the time the Affordable Care Act passed, 91 million Americans had employer-sponsored plans that imposed those so-called lifetime limits. That group included Timmy’s parents, whose plan previously included a $1 million lifetime limit. This Obamacare provision took effect September 23, 2010.
Timmy was born September 29. On December 17, he surpassed $1 million worth of bills in the neonatal intensive care unit. He didn’t leave the NICU until he was 6 months old. If Timmy had been born a week earlier, his medical benefits could have run out while he was still in the NICU.
But that didn’t happen. His insurer covered everything. The NICU bills his parents save total just over $2 million (they come out to $2,070,146.94, to be exact).