Figure This Out, Everyone

affordable care actThe results of the U.S. presidential election are not what I had been hoping they would be.

Although many issues were important to me — and my opinions were represented well across several candidates — one that made me especially motivated was the Affordable Care Act. Between my two daughters and I, we have a host of ailments — historical and current — which would have qualified, before the ACA, as “pre-existing conditions.” I have one daughter who was born with a congenital heart defect that affected her respiratory and digestive health. I have another daughter with a kidney/ureter condition. I have asthma and a severe food allergy. The ACA included within it a protection that kept insurance companies from denying health care because of a pre-existing condition, but President-Elect Donald J. Trump has been quite public about his disdain for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Just last week, he was quoted as saying that Obamacare was a “horror” he would “repeal and replace.”

If we are to take him at his word, our next task is to pray — prayer through hoping, emailing, calling, writing, and traditional wailing prayer — that this most important protection made available through the Affordable Care Act remains in effect in whatever health plan replaces it. Even terrible health insurance is better than no health insurance, a reality many who never had insurance until now understand all too well.

I haven’t slept much. Forgive my lack of eloquence: this scares me. 

There is a group of people who are uniquely qualified to imagine how to maneuver ourselves into something of a safety net here. These people know how to make things work in an environment full of unpleasant, life-altering surprises. These people are the parents of children with special needs and medical conditions.

The parents of children with special needs and medical conditions have been adjusting their expectations of how the world should look since the moment they took on this role. They do everything with creativity and with their hips into the wind, pushing against adversity. These are the women and men who get wheelchair ramps installed at playgrounds; spend hours and hours in IEP and 504 plan meetings so their children can attend school safely; advocate for research at the local, state, and federal levels; and turn every corner of their day in another direction to get their children fed, clothed, clean, and educated. The love comes easily and drives every instinct of these parents.

Parents of children with special needs and medical conditions: you must help push for this protection in President-Elect Trump’s new health care plan. Your children will age out of your insurance someday. Help. Please, help.

We have many challenges ahead, and we won’t agree on all of them. That’s how democracy works. This one, however, by our nature as human beings belongs to us all. If you have a body and you’ve ever been sick, you should think very hard about how it would feel to decide between keeping your home and getting medical help. Think about all the normal things that young people experience in their bodies as they age: childbirth, aging bones, cysts and rashes, sinus infections. Now add the surprises: heart disease, broken bones, cancer.

Now imagine those things without health insurance, insurance they can’t get because they had their tonsils out when they were six. Insurance they can’t get because they had a heart murmur as a baby. Insurance they’re denied because they were treated for teenaged depression. Insurance unavailable to them because they had oral surgery, appendicitis, or ADHD.

Now, please look at the person we elected and the promises he made, and begin planning.

Let’s figure this out. We need a path forward to keep companies from denying health insurance based on preexisting conditions. I welcome your comments.

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8 thoughts on “Figure This Out, Everyone

  1. While I don’t have medical or preexisting conditions in my own immediate family right now, I do get your fears and concerns. They are completely justifiable and we do need to have a plan with what he has been quoted on record as saying. This for me is also so much more though and my worries are for our nation on whole. I just have such a bad and uneasy feeling from all this and haven’t been able to shake it as much as I keep trying. So, I have no words, but agree action needs to be taken for this and more now.

    • Janine, I have all of those other concerns as well. There’s only so much of my own positions that really fit into this largely health-related blog, but trust me, as a Jew and the member of an extremely diverse community, I am worried for my own family and for my friends. I think we have to start with the practical safeguards we can create, and then see what larger issues can be tackled later. It’s going to be a challenging time.

  2. This is one of my fears as well. I know that Obamacare isn’t perfect. It meant higher rates for a lot of people. BUT there are 20 million people who didn’t have health insurance before who have it now! The pre-existing condition denials is terrifying. I don’t know what the answer is but I hope and pray we find one soon, or that at least companies will be disallowed to reject coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

  3. I am willing to concede that there is another way to make health care available to everyone. However, I liked the Affordable Care Act and the way it worked. It wasn’t perfect, but I think it needed a few tweaks rather than a complete overhaul. I hope our children and families continue to receive the health care they need.

    • Rabia, I have been lucky enough to be largely untouched by the ACA because of my family’s employer-based health insurance, but was so grateful for the future protection my children would have from being denied their own insurance as adults. I am hoping that whatever health care plan our President-Elect proposes keeps this protection in place.

  4. I come from a country of so-called socialized medicine. I like the way Canada helps when one of Canada’s citizens gets sick. I would have put my parents in debt from my kidney transplant at thirteen years of age. I need multiple medications every month to keep my kidney working these last twenty years. I am not making the big bucks. I am visually impaired and on government assistance. The rest of my fellow Canadians owe me nothing and wouldn’t have to help. We help each other out when, where, and how we can. I wish I could make this a reality for everyone, here and in the US. I am sorry to hear you are scared. I hoped things would go the other way on Tuesday. I know how scary it can be to be sick. Healthcare is a right that all deserve. Those who haven’t had more than a cold or a broken bone have no idea. This is a change to your country that is definitely worth talking about and I hope some day things there will change, for all those who suffer the multiple threats of illness and medical conditions.

    • Kerry, Canada’s plan seems very successful from my vantage point. I fear it will be a very long time until we’ll have anything remotely like it, if ever.

  5. […] U.S. House of Representatives voted yesterday to strip away financial protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Those people include, tucked away in the millions affected by this legislation, my own family. […]

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