ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Uncertainty over the future of health care in America is affecting consumers now. From member station WNYC, Fred Mogul met up with one couple who are not taking any chances.
FRED MOGUL, BYLINE: In the middle of a blizzard a few weeks ago, Ann Justi and Don Boyer sat down in the living room of their apartment in Yonkers to tie the knot.
DONALD BOYER: I, Donald Matthew Boyer, vow to you, Ann Lorraine Justi...
MOGUL: The couple met last year, quickly fell in love and had been planning a wedding for next fall. But they sped up wedding plans, opting for an intimate ceremony with just themselves, a rabbi and two witnesses - their landlord from downstairs and me, pinch hitting for friends who got snowed in. Why the accelerated timeline - health insurance.
BOYER: There's so much uncertainty as far as what's going to be law tomorrow, what's going to be law next month. Nobody really knows unfortunately.
MOGUL: Boyer has a good union health plan from his work as a concierge. But Justi only has temporary insurance from the employer who laid her off last year after more than a decade on the job. They don't know what will be available when that runs out.
BOYER: We know that there are plans to remove a lot of what's already in place. We don't know what's going to replace it.
MOGUL: Justi eats well and exercises every day. But she says she is 53, and she has some longstanding health issues.
ANN JUSTI: I've got B-12 malabsorption disease. I have GERD. I have mastocytosis, which is an allergy. I have asthma.
MOGUL: None of these are life-threatening, but they do require expensive drugs and monitoring tests.
JUSTI: If I don't have my prescriptions, then things will get really unmanageable.
MOGUL: Having insurance with an expiration date instead of being on a stable health plan that can't kick her off takes Justi back to an earlier, uglier time in her life.
JUSTI: In 1988, I went from one employer to another. And the new employer then - their insurance didn't cover my preexisting conditions for a year, and that nearly bankrupt me.
MOGUL: They still plan to have a real wedding in the fall with friends and family. But for this time, they didn't just want to go to city hall, so they found Rabbi Andy Dubin in an online list of officiants even though neither of them is Jewish.
BOYER: I can't thank you enough for making it in this lousy weather.
ANDY DUBIN: You know, there's certain things that I just wouldn't miss.
MOGUL: Dubin talks to them about marriage, commitment, faith and resourcefulness.
DUBIN: You are living in times, as we all are, where sometimes we have to take things into our own hands to make sure that we come out all right on the other side.
MOGUL: He speaks about the couple's personal journey. They read vows they wrote and put rings on each other's fingers.
DUBIN: By the authority vested in me by the state of New York, I now pronounce you Don and Ann, husband and wife. And now we clap.
DUBIN: Woo-hoo (ph).
MOGUL: Boyer and Justi are beaming like newlyweds but very practical newlyweds. Boyer is mapping out the next step.
BOYER: I want to get you and this form down to my union's headquarters to get you on my insurance.
DUBIN: Oh, that makes sense.
JUSTI: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
DUBIN: So then maybe you should just bring it on tomorrow.
MOGUL: And that's it. The landlord heads back downstairs. The rabbi and I head out into the snow. And Justi and Boyer bundle up for a one-night honeymoon in a nearby hotel. They say they're prepared to face whatever comes next together, in sickness and in health. For NPR News, I'm Fred Mogul in New York.
SIEGEL: And that story is part of a reporting partnership of NPR, WNYC and Kaiser Health News.
(SOUNDBITE OF DIRTY ART CLUB SONG, "JUST A MEMORY")
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