I was one of the first people in the country to benefit from the Affordable Care Act.
Seven years ago, my husband and I were barely keeping our heads above water as we tried to literally stay afloat during the Great Recession which had hit us hard. We were both entrepreneurs. He ran his own small computer business, and I ran a small nonprofit organization.
When the economy crashed, both of us had to continue working even though people couldn’t afford to pay us. This meant that we had to rely on our savings, retirement and home equity line to pay our bills. Our health insurance was the most expensive on the market, because we were self-employed and my husband had a pre-existing condition.
There came a point when we had to decide if we should stop paying our mortgage in order to continue paying for health insurance. We decided to gamble with dropping our $1,500 a month health insurance until we could get back on our feet.
We gambled and lost. I found out I had late stage breast cancer at the end of 2011. I had discovered the lump during a routine breast exam but didn’t go to the doctor right away because I was uninsured. That’s what happens when you don’t have insurance – you don’t go to the doctor. Cash poor and uninsured, only a miracle could save me.
That miracle was PCIP, the Pre Existing Condition Insurance Plan which had gone into effect immediately in California after the Affordable Care Act became law. It was designed to take care of the most vulnerable Americans right away – those who had been kicked to the curb by the insurance companies for having pre-existing conditions.
Since President Obama had the guts to take on health care reform when other presidents dared not try, or tried and failed, I and many others like me, got the lifesaving treatment that we needed. I spent the entire year of 2012 in treatment – five months of chemo, four surgeries including a double mastectomy and reconstruction, and radiation. I am alive today, and my two kids still have their mom, because of Obamacare.
I was home from the hospital for just a couple of days after my final surgery when the Supreme Court made its decision about the Affordable Care Act. I will never forget the anxiety and fear that I felt while I watched the news, in excruciating pain and shock from surgery, awaiting my fate. If the law was struck down, I’d be uninsured AGAIN. And since I was in the midst of expensive cancer treatment, it would mean that my family would go bankrupt.
I was terrified on election night 2011 while I awaited my fate again. If Mitt Romney had won and the Republicans made good on their promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, I would have to live the rest of my life uninsured, with the ongoing threat of a reoccurrence of my cancer.
Here we are again. We have a new President who, on day one of his presidency, signed an executive order to repeal Obamacare. The Republicans see this as their only chance to cut taxes on the rich, give power back to the insurance companies, and destroy Obama’s legacy.
This is not a game.
The Republicans have been so determined to erase the Affordable Care Act that that’s all they care about. Never mind that it regulates the health insurance industry, makes insurance affordable for millions of people, saves lives, and opens the door for single payer health care. They are obsessed about one thing and that is to erase Obama’s legacy.
If the Republicans are successful, and they repeal this law without replacing and improving it, it’s quite possible that I won’t be able to afford insurance again because of a pre-existing condition and also because the federal subsidies will be eliminated. Both my husband and daughter are on my plan. My portion of the bill is $140.
President Trump said he wants to keep the PCIP provision, but he doesn’t say how. Some Republicans are considering whether to ask the states to restore high-risk pools as an option, but that could be unaffordable.
My doctor still monitors me every three months. If I had to pay the full amount every three months, I wouldn’t go as often which would give the cancer a chance to take hold if it comes back. My husband is diabetic. Insulin is expensive. If my cancer returns, I could die from it.
I may have been one of the first people to benefit from the Affordable Care Act, but many more share the same story – we’re alive today for one reason – the Affordable Care Act.
Killing Obamacare will kill people. I don’t want to be one of them.
For more on Spike’s story, visit www.spikespeaks.net