In full disclosure, I am a registered Republican. When I was 18, I was told I had to pick a party and since my parents were Republicans and Ronald Reagan was the president, I picked Republican. At the time it meant so little to me. My parents were getting divorced and I was heading off to college. Choosing a political party wasn't important to me and honestly, it never has been. I've never voted along party lines. I've voted on issues and who I think we'll be the better leader. I've always voted my conscience and sadly last year, I didn't really like either of the options for president but I still voted.
Lately, I haven't been sleeping and it's not menopause keeping me awake at night. It's the Republicans. Why? My family is one of the thousand that has benefited from the Affordable Care Act and we have much to lose if it's completely dismantled tomorrow. Just that thought gives me terrible insomnia and anxiety.
I've written about health insurance for years. Thirteen years ago, I lost a job and quickly had to figure out what we were going to do because I was our health insurance package and everyone in my family wouldn't qualify for an individual health insurance plan due to pre-existing conditions. I chose a career path that I didn't really enjoy to have benefits and when I left, we had to pay outrageous COBRA payments for a year to continue our coverage. At the time Obamacare was passed, I was elated. I had a tween with chronic migraines and I really needed to be self-employed to be able to take her to doctor's appointments, be there for emergencies and take care of her when she was sick. It was a godsend and at the time, I didn't know how much.
Twenty seven months ago, my teenager spit up a blob of blood in a Walmart parking lot. While her health had already been declining for months, the blood was the beginning of a two-year odyssey to find answers. We saw countless specialists, took a trip to Mayo and had multiple emergency room visits and hospital stays. Last fall, we were in the hospital for over a month and just the room and board (not doctors, medications or tests) was $260,000. I haven't added up all the charges on the EOB's, but I'm almost certain that we've spent millions of dollars of our insurance companies money but we've paid the premiums and it's kept our child alive.
One of the things that I don't think the Republican's understand (or they don't care), is our story is the same as thousands of other families with chronically ill kids. Prior to the ACA, many of us were forced to take jobs we didn't want to have health insurance and let's face it, employers aren't exactly understanding when you have to miss work all the time. Parents of chronically ill children make lots of sacrifices and sadly, illness takes a financial toll whether you have insurance or not. Many families struggle and that compounds the issue. The potential to lose benefits or have premiums increase exponentially will be financially devastating to thousands of families throughout the country and not just families with sick kids.
Cuts to Medicaid will further complicate the problem. Currently, we pay for health insurance and the bills because we can afford the premiums. If we can no longer afford to pay the premiums, we'll be forced into the Medicaid system to pay for necessary care for our daughter. I'm certain that we're not the only family choosing to pay for care instead of using the system (that's actually in place to take care of disabled kids) and what happens when that system is challenged by an influx of people?
Healthy people are also going to be affected by a quick repeal. If essential benefits are touched policies may no longer pay for routine well visits or maternity care. Group health care plans may be able to cap benefits so if you get cancer, the policy may not pay for all your treatment. If you're in your 60's and don't qualify for Medicare, you may pay ten times as much as you do now. It's going to change everyone's health coverage. If you stop and pause for a moment and consider that the American Medical Association opposes the act don't you think the Republicans should too?
While I'm a registered Republican, I now think that political parties are complete bullshit. No one listens to their constituents, because if they did they'd see that half of America (according to every poll I've read) favors the ACA and that there's a large portion that don't understand that the ACA and Obamacare are the same thing which probably affects polling results. While the ACA isn't perfect, there are some provisions of the plan that work and benefit everyone and the Republicans should pause and do more research before they pass a quick repeal and replace that will hurt millions of people.