I think we’re all suffering from a little resistance fatigue. At least I know I am. It seems like every day there’s some new embarrassment or horror coming down the pipe. Lately health insurance has been at the forefront. When you have medical conditions that are not treatable by taking two aspirin and calling the doctor in the morning, it gets kind of panic inducing to see Republicans in Congress trying their damnedest to strip you of your access to insurance.
So, here’s what I want to do. I’m going to tell you a little about why it is important to me that we keep the ACA and work to make it better or start to transition to a single-payer system. Then, I’m going to open up the comments on this post and I’d like for you to tell me your story. It can be as long or as short as you feel comfortable with.
Maybe you can pass this around to your friends also and they can tell their stories. I think this might help us figure out what we need to focus on when we engage with our elected officials. I hope you’ll join me in sharing our stories. Think of this as a big ol’ badly-needed group hug.
In about 2002, give or take, I tried to get Blue Cross Blue Shield to sell my husband and me an insurance policy. I had been using the CHIP program for insurance on my son, so he was covered. They told my husband that they would gladly sell him a policy but that because of my weight and the fact that I have high blood pressure, they wouldn’t write a policy for me. He told them to take their policy and shove it. So we went without insurance for a lot of years and let me tell you, it was terrifying and it was very expensive. Even though most doctors will cut you a break if you self-pay, the break was just not enough.
On December 31, 2012 I was not feeling well. I had some dizziness and I thought maybe I was developing an inner ear infection. The next day, New Years Day, I stayed in the bed and couldn’t raise my head up because every time I did, I vomited from the vertigo. Forcefully. I lay in the bed for the next week, only getting up to use the bathroom. I had double vision. I couldn’t eat or drink because everything came right back up.
My husband managed to get me to my primary care doctor, who put me on antibiotics because she thought it was and ear infection too. After a few days with no improvement we went back and they sent me to the emergency room at Randolph Hospital. There, they did a CT scan on me. It was determined that I had hydrocephalus, which means that the ventricles in my brain were filling with cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) and not draining as needed. I would need be taken by ambulance to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem because they didn’t have the means to treat me at Randolph.
After the most uncomfortable ride in my life they checked me into Baptist Hospital and I was looked at by what seemed like a thousand doctors and interns. They did a spinal tap, which was awful, to determine how high the pressure in my brain was. It was determined that I would need emergency brain surgery; a shunt placement, to be exact. This shunt would help to drain the CSF out of my brain and down a catheter and dump out in my abdominal cavity. This was not a condition that was going to right itself. Failure to do the surgery could lead to a stroke. So, off to surgery I went.
All this transpired while I was uninsured. It took my a few days in the hospital to get back to normal. I hadn’t eaten anything that I could keep down in nearly two weeks and had been drinking just the bare minimum and praying I didn’t vomit. Someone from the hospital’s financial office came to talk to me about payment, since I was uninsured. They told me they’d get it worked out and she’d try to get me on Medicaid to help with the bills. I went home and waited.
When I received the bill I was completely in shock. $69,000+ More than my house was worth. By sheer luck, because I was not working and because my husband is self-employed, I managed to qualify to receive Medicaid for that one month. Medicaid covered the vast majority of my bill and what Medicaid didn’t cover, the hospital’s Charity Care helped out with. Had it not been for the Medicaid program I am sure I would have had to file for bankruptcy because I simply could not pay a $69,000 hospital bill.
This, my friends, is why it is so important to save the ACA, improve it via legislation and expand Medicaid. This is also why the ACA must be just a stepping stone on the way to a national health system like every other industrialized nation on the planet. Because of the ACA, I have been able to buy affordable insurance in the marketplace. The two shunt revisions I have needed since my initial surgery have been covered by my insurance, which has made my hospital stays infinitely less stressful and my recovery much quicker.
So this is my story and this is why I feel so strongly about saving the Affordable Care Act and expanding Medicaid. We should not have people going bankrupt from doctor bills or dying because they won’t seek treatment because they can’t afford it. The way our legislators so flippantly tinker with our lives is criminal.
Now, I’d like to hear your story. The comment section is open below.