LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- For some Nevadans, this new year means new health insurance that actually covers their pre-existing conditions. The new rules under the Affordable Care Act prevent insurance companies from denying coverage for those suffering from these conditions -- a problem for many Americans have dealt with for years.
Mario Rocha of Las Vegas lives with asthma, and asthma treatment is costly. Now his condition will not only be covered, for him it will now be affordable. Rocha is in real estate and contracting. He doesn't work for a company; he works for himself. The cost of treating his asthma has been astronomical over the years.
"Having to get the medicine I required was just -- we just couldn't afford it," Rocha said.
The price almost cost him his life about five years ago, as he tried to treat his condition without prescriptions that he absolutely needs.
"My body just gave up and I stopped functioning. The last thing I told my wife was 'Call 911,' and 23 days later, I woke up and I was in the hospital," Rocha said.
Rocha never wants to go through that pain again, and when health insurance became available through the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange under the Affordable Care Act, he and his wife Leticia were listening.
"Once they talked about covering preexisting [conditions], we got excited because I just told her if it does that, I can actually afford it," Rocha said.
He immediately signed up to get himself and his wife and son covered. What was costing about $2,000 a month before, will now be about $300. And prescriptions that cost hundreds will be mere dollars.
"$5 prescriptions, $300 a month, that's something I can afford," Rocha said.
Rocha says this new possibility is life changing.
"I think we struggle with that: whether we put food on table and pay the bills, or do we get to get medicine, or get to go to the hospital, or get to go see a doctor?" Rocha said.
Now he won't have to struggle, financially or emotionally.
"It's emotional. It's big for us and we're just blessed and happy to have it," Rocha said.
Rocha has a doctor's appointment already scheduled next week.