Barack Obama is telling the story of how hard it was for his mother to get health care as part of selling his health care plan for America:
He began with a personal story: his mother, dying of cancer at age 53, having to fight her insurance company, trying to prove that her disease had not been a pre-existing condition. He broadened that into a general proposition about the proper role of government: "It is absolutely true that I think it is important for government to crack down on insurance companies that are cheating their customers." - Time
Not mentioned in the story is that she was not even in the United States when she discovered that she was sick, only returning to the US later for treatment.
In 1994, Ann Dunham was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and uterine cancer; she moved back to Hawaii to live near her widowed mother. She died there in 1995 at the age of 52 - Wikipedia
Did she have American health insurance coverage while she was living in Indonesia? did she have health insurance before getting sick? Her time line gets a little unclear at the end of her life:
1974 - Ann Dunham goes back to Indonesia to do fieldwork for her Ph.D. Barack Obama decides to stay in Hawaii with Ann's parents.1980 - Ann Dunham files for divorce from Lolo Soetoro.1988-1992 - Ann Dunham is back in Indonesia, continuing her anthropological research for her Ph.D. Her research helps establish a microfinance program in Indonesia, through which financial services are available to poor and low-income Indonesians. In 1992 Ann Dunham finally earns a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Hawaii's with a dissertation titled "Peasant blacksmithing in Indonesia: Surviving and Thriving Against All Odds."1994 - While in Jakarta, Indonesia, first signs of Ann's ovarian cancer appear and misconstrued by a local doctor as indigestion.1995 - Ann Dunham is back in Hawaii. Proper diagnosis reveals she suffers from ovarian and uterine cancer. Ann Dunham dies on November 7, 1995, at 52. - www.barack-obama-timeline.com
Was she living in Indonesia when she discovered that she was sick or just visiting for work? Where was she living from 1992 - 1994 and did she have health insurance during that time? There does not seem to be much information on these last years, but she appears to have been working for a non-profit in New York:
Before she died, Ann Dunham was research and policy coordinator for Women's World Banking, a New York-based nonprofit that supports a global network of microfinance institutions. - Star Bulletin
I say that she appears to have been living in the US as she was in Indonesia when she got sick. There is no mention of how long she was over there and may have been working for the group while living there. If so, this could be a valid reason why she was having such a hard time with her health insurance Company. If she had insurance for a long time, it would not have been an issue. The issue of a 'pre-existing condition' should only relevant when you first get insurance.
A pre existing condition is a medical condition that existed before you obtained health insurance. In most cases, there is a 9 month waiting period for pre existing medical condition coverage. That means that if a company offers you coverage, they may not provide coverage for that specific pre existing medical condition for 9 - 12 months.In many cases, if have had coverage in place for at least 18 months with no more than a 63 day gap in coverage, and you are just switching insurance companies, the new company will give you credit for having coverage in place and waive the waiting periods for your conditions. This allows you to switch plans if you need to.Remember, the idea for insurance is to protect yourself in case something bad happens. You don't buy car insurance to cover the cost of oil changes for your car, you buy it for the really bad things that can happen. The same is true for health insurance. You need to have it in place before something bad happens. You can't buy auto insurance after the accident to cover the cost of the accident. The same is true for health insurance - WikiAnswers
Senator's Obama's answer to this problem is to permit you to get insurance after you get sick by forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. That will only punish people who already have insurance by raising their rates to cover these people who only join the system when they need to collect from it. That is just bad business and a bad way to cover American's health care.