Once upon a time there was a girl named Stephanie, she was a fairly decent person, she always did what she was told growing up, went to school, and always held down a job (she was a psychologist).
But Stephanie wasn’t well, and it was really hard for her to stay well, but luckily her parents had always had health coverage so she had always been covered.
That is, until, she grew up. The job that Stephanie procured straight out of university provided health coverage but that job didn’t last long. It was a small private practice that was eventually sold to a larger one and the employees were dissolved as the larger practice saw fit.
So for the first time ever Stephanie found herself without a job. She applied everywhere and couldn’t find a single one in her chosen field.
Meanwhile, her cobra health coverage ran out and
she was paying for maintenance meds out of pocket that ran upwards of $2k a month. Yes! Just to stay well!!
Thankfully, Stephanie had a friend that she went to University with whom had done well for herself and started a small boutique agency and she offered her a job! With benefits! Even though it wasn’t in Stephanie’s preferred field she took it anyway because she couldn’t afford her medication and was running out of money to pay her mortgage!
Stephanie settled in well and things were great for a month or two. Until one day, Stephanie woke up, just like any other day, and hopped in the shower, just like any other day, and started to wash herself down.
When Stephanie ran her loofah over her right breast she felt an unusual bump she had never ever felt before. She worried for a moment but dismissed it as anything serious, after all, she was only 27, who gets seriously ill at 27?!?
Stephanie, ever the dutiful patient, decided to err on the side of caution and called her Gyno for her annual well woman exam.
Let me tell you, dear reader, it was fortunate for Stephanie that she did follow up with a medical practitioner because I’m afraid that lump was in fact breast cancer.
Stephanie had to go through some pretty awful things like a lumpectomy and radiation and over a years worth of a very expensive drug called Tamoxifen to beat that cancer into remission. But thankfully, she did have insurance, and her out of pocket expenses were minimal.
Finally, the day came when the Dr’s looked at Stephanie and said “The cancer is gone! You’re better! You’re in remission!”
As you can well imagine Stephanie was overjoyed!
Two weeks later Stephanie got a letter in the mail from her insurance company and it wasn’t a love letter!
The letter said that Stephanie had approached her “lifetime maximum” and they were very sorry but she was a liability because even though she was in remission her cancer was likely to come back in another way sometime down the road and she was simply too expensive to cover.
Stephanie was devastated. She had only been in remission for a couple of weeks! And she had five whole years to go before she would be considered completely healed of cancer. She didn’t know what to do! She called and talked to Human Resources but there was nothing they could do! She called dozens of insurance companies but no one would cover her because she had what they referred to as “A pre-existing condition” and since her chances of getting sick again were high no one wanted to help her.
Stephanie was very sad, sure she still had a job, but all of her money would go to bills now and she would barely make ends meet. Still Stephanie did the best she could and kept applying to local practices to see if she could get back into psychology. Nothing came along.
Stephanie made due until one afternoon, at one of her check-ups, 3 years down the road, they found a suspicious bump in her uterus!
The Doctor quickly sent Stephanie to get tests done and much to everyone’s dismay the cancer was back. Stephanie was terrified!
How would she pay for treatment out of pocket?? She could barely handle her bills as it was! Desperate Stephanie decided to do the only thing she could. She sold her new car and bought an older one and applied the money to treatment. But that wasn’t enough! She had to have four separate surgeries, pain medicine, anesthesia, the list went on! So again, desperate, Stephanie sold her home. She gave every cent that she had to her Dr’s so they would help fix her uterus and kill that awful cancer.
She did everything she could to get help! She applied for grants! Petitioned the state and local governments! She wrote letters! No one would help Stephanie because she had no dependents. Apparently Stephanie’s life would be worth saving to the state that she lived in if she had had children but she didn’t so they refused to help her. Stephanie racked up over $170k dollars worth of debt before she was given the news that she was in remission again.
She is still in debt.
And until something would be done about pre-existing conditions she couldn’t get any coverage.
So when Stephanie woke up today, turned on the news, and saw that FINALLY someone in her government was listening and would try to help people like her, Stephanie was so happy that she cried!!
Stephanie knew that she isn’t the only person with a story like this. She has met a lot of people at the hospitals that she was treated at that were in similar situations. Her happy tears weren’t just for herself they were for other people that struggle just as hard as she does.
She was very happy that someone was finally giving a voice to people like her. So happy in fact, she sat down and typed out her story so that other people could read it. Because stories like hers need to be told so that people can understand why healthcare laws like the one that was passed today are so very important.
Cenk Uygur did a really interesting piece on The Young Turks about how Americans generally support the provisions within the Affordable Care Act, but oppose the act itself. Why? Because Republicans have poured $235 million into anti-Obamacare ads. When you break the ACA down into provisions - no lifetime caps for coverage, no denying people for preexisting conditions, allowing people to stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26 - Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of it. But the ideologues on the Right have decided that anything Obama does is bad, so this is bad, so they drive the message that it’s all about death panels and government intrusion and LIBERTY!!! when actually, it’s about common-sense changes to a broken system.
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