Until about a year ago, Tim Fraas was largely indifferent to the debate over health care reform. The Elgin man was employed as a land surveyor, and his health insurance covered most of the medical bills related to his heart troubles. Since then, however, a heart transplant and the loss of his job have given Fraas a new perspective.

By Judith Graham Tribune reporter
December 27, 2009

Chicagotribune.com: Until about a year ago, Tim Fraas was largely indifferent to the debate over health care reform.

The Elgin man was employed as a land surveyor, and his health insurance covered most of the medical bills related to his heart troubles.

"My attitude was: If it's not hitting me on the head, I'm not thinking about it," said Fraas, 52. "And honestly, if it was going to cost me money, I wouldn't have been in favor of it."

Since then, however, a heart transplant and the loss of his job have given Fraas a new perspective, teaching him that insurance offers incomplete protection to someone with a catastrophic illness.

Today, Fraas speaks publicly about the need for reform, citing his experience. Once solidly middle-class, this burly, plain-spoken man has depleted his 401(k) savings account, taken out a home equity loan, accepted charity from family and friends, and even asked his dad for help.

Unlike many people who fall out of the work force, Fraas has affordable health care coverage through his wife's employer. But with co-payments for each doctor's visit, medical test, hospital stay and prescription, mounting costs can easily overwhelm someone with a limited income.

"What happened to me could happen to you," he tells friends, neighbors and church groups. "Don't count on insurance covering everything you need when you get sick. It won't, and you'd better be prepared." ...

To read the rest of the story, click to www.chicagotribune.com/health/chi-health-reform-convert-dec27,0,2418252.story.