Sunday, January 15, 2017

Thoughts on the healthcare debate

If you're going to read this post, please promise me this: you will read it all the way through AND you will try to read it from my perspective. Deal? Okay, let's proceed.

I haven't kept very quiet on social media about my opinions on the healthcare debate. However, you can only write so much on a short Facebook post or tweet. I am going to flesh out my ideas on healthcare and present to you exactly why I believe what I believe.

1. If you have read any of my blogs in the past, you know I have cystic fibrosis, a genetic, progressive, life-threatening disease. My healthcare costs are undeniably massive. My family maxes out on our out of pocket deductible within the first month or two of the year, depending on what is going on in my life. Obviously, my family has to have the best coverage possible so that I can get the medicines I desperately need. Before the ACA (when I was growing up), people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Often, I didn't know the answer because I liked so many different things. However, my go to answer was always "something that will provide health insurance". Even at an early age, I knew insurance companies could discriminate against people like me because my healthcare costs were "too expensive". Without insurance through a job (or through a spouse's job), I would be unable to have health insurance, and I would be completely bankrupt trying to keep up with my healthcare expenses.

2. While the ACA is not a perfect first draft, it is a step in the right direction. Before the ACA, our healthcare was incredibly messed up, and people not affected by it just turned to look the other way and not deal with the problem. Before the ACA, healthcare was for the healthy and wealthy. How messed up is that? The people who needed coverage the most couldn't get it. The ACA allows for people like me to have access to healthcare. It also keeps insurance companies from putting a lifetime cap on insurance expenses. You think a $2 million cap on healthcare expenses should be plenty to last a lifetime? Think again. I would go through all that money in a matter of a few years if I stay relatively healthy. The ACA has also helped women get reproductive care, especially women who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford it. People under 26 can also stay on their parents' insurance, a huge benefit to many in their 20s just starting out.

3. People complain about the ACA because it requires everyone to have health insurance. Here's the kicker, people: the only way universal healthcare works is to make sure everyone has it. Insurance companies don't want people like me on their insurance. I am a liability, a loss of money, a pain in their butts. Even with all the money my family gives to have the best health insurance, the company still loses thousands upon thousands of dollars on me alone. Economically, it makes zero sense for an insurance company to give me insurance. That's just a fact of business. They need people like my healthy, young peers to have insurance to balance out the cost. People who go to the doctor once a year, if that vs people who go to the doctor every month or so, get blood drawn constantly, get IV antibiotics frequently, and take a dozen or so different kinds of pills. I don't blame the insurance companies for any kind of "lack of compassion". They're just trying to make ends meet. But I keep hearing this argument over and over again when I express my concerns over the repealing of ACA-"oh, insurance companies won't take away your healthcare. They have more compassion than that". Yes, they will take it away. I do not make sense economically.

4. I promise you, there will be a day you need health insurance. Whether your wife gets diagnosed with cancer, your mom falls and needs surgery, you get pregnant, or your child is diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Don't be so short-sighted that the only thing you care about is your premiums and deductibles right now. If that's all you care about, good, affordable healthcare won't be there for you when you most need it most. From everything I've researched, if the ACA is repealed, even if the preexisting clause is kept, my premiums could go up to as much as $10,000 a month, or insurance companies could go back to putting lifetime caps on its insurers. Obviously, my fiancé and I cannot afford that, especially not on top of additional medical expenses. Is it really fair that I, part of the sickest group of people in America, literally lose all financial stability because of a health condition I was born with and have very little control over? Would you put your daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, parents, or friends in that kind of situation? Do you really care that much about saving a little bit of money in the grand scheme of things?

Honestly, I'm scared of the future of healthcare. I'm scared what people in government are going to do to my access to affordable healthcare. I'm scared senators and representatives who don't have to consider what it's like to live with a chronic, costly disease won't consider it and will make the best decision for THEM-padding their pockets with extra cash and making sure they (the healthy and wealthy) save the most money possible. Is that selfish drive really what matters? Do we as Americans really lack that much compassion? Bottom line: repealing the ACA without having a clear, precise plan in place that works for ALL Americans (and let's be honest, no one has a plan right now), is completely irresponsible.

America was founded on the idea that all people should have "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness". If we don't have healthcare for all people, we are denying individuals life. Is that truly American?