Exactly Why I Need the ACA

Exactly why ACA and the ability to get health insurance with pre-existing conditions matters.

In 2013 I had a craniotomy to fix a hole in my superior canal (superior canal dehiscence syndrome). Side effects of the hole include complete lack of balance, migraines, and hearing things like my eyelids pop when I blinked or brain swoosh when I turned. As my symptoms increased my ability to do anything decreased. I eventually ended up on short term disability a month before my surgery. Without that surgery I would still be on disability. With that surgery I am an active part of the community with a good job that just bought a house and a car (economy yay!).

I was on disability for three months. The month before surgery and two months after. I was able to continue insurance through Cobra ($700/person) and was paid disability wages (60% of my paycheck). Rent was about 30% of my paycheck because we were lucky. Rent in general is much higher than that. To cover both me and my spouse would have meant that all my disability wages would go to insurance and rent and some rent would be paid by my spouse. My spouse is a cook. I love him tremendously but his paycheck does not support us. Mine does. Money left over from paying insurance and rent and doctor copays and bills would not have fed us and some bills would have gone unpaid.

We sat down and talked. My husband was healthy and we decided he could live without insurance for a few months. A year later, back on health insurance, he had a heart attack. More on that later.

So we managed to scrape by, keep our apartment, not go bankrupt, get me the surgery I needed by deciding to forgo health insurance for my husband for a few months.

Let’s say this surgery did not happen in 2013. Let’s say it was happening this year. This year we could not afford to forgo health insurance for my husband. He has had a heart attack. That is a pre-existing condition. Congress is in the process of dismantling the protections offered by the Affordable Care Act. Whether they succeed or not we cannot risk my husband not having health insurance for even a moment. Then he could be denied health insurance ever after. And he would.

He has heart medicine. He has a lifetime ahead of him full of potential health risks like broken bones, the flu, another heart attack, bronchitis, my imagination is running wild but it’s not unreasonable to assume in the next 40 years he will need to see an expensive doctor.

In 2017 with ACA under attack we could not decide to budget away a few months of health insurance when times are tough.

In 2017 with ACA under attack I cannot open a small business because of the risk of missing health coverage.

In 2017 with ACA under attack if I was having that same brain surgery we would not be able to afford rent. Healing from brain surgery while homeless is impossible. We would have taken out a lot of debt, ruined my credit rating, never bought a house, declared bankruptcy which is now something employers look for in your history. My ability to get hired, get insurance would have gone down.

In 2017 my four months off for brain surgery would have been a life sentence of poverty and tax payers eventually paying for my food stamps, disability checks, and unpaid medical bills.

I know why people hate the ACA. They hate having to pay for insurance they “don’t need” and “can’t afford.” Then work on the costs!

By throwing the baby out with the bathwater Congress is screwing over a whole class of people who until recently could find ways to juggle their expenses to make health care work.

Essentially all you healthy people who “don’t need health insurance” are screwing me over because I happened to have a hole in my head.

Now don’t try to problem solve me. Don’t tell me our parents could have paid some part or we could have started a gofundme or try to fix the math so everything works out. Don’t polish this turd.

Without ACA people like me are going to go bankrupt and without health insurance people like me are not going to go to the doctor to find out why they have migraines because they can’t afford the special CT-Scan that finds a hole in their head that fixes their problem. They are going to end up on disability and after a few years of listening to their eyelids pop and their brains swish they will kill themselves. Trust me.

So call your Congressman. Tell him that you hate ACA and you’re happy to see it repealed AFTER there is a replacement plan in place that protects people with pre-exisitng conditions. Hell, why not throw in the protection against lifetime caps and the ability for parents to pay for their kids to be insured through college?

Really. Call your Congressman. We need the provisions that the ACA provides. I need them.

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