Dear Senator Cornyn:
You sent out a newsletter requesting stories about how Obamacare affected us and our family. Let me start by telling you what life was like before Obamacare.
My daughter was born in June 2007, a strong and beautiful little girl. The first time we took her to the hospital was that October. There was a fire burning in our town, matched only but the heat of her fever. While others were moving towards cleaner air we headed into the smoky clouds where the hospital was located.
It ended up being a urinary tract infection and after the doctor gave her some antibiotics we went home. But something wasn’t right.
Every six weeks or so she got a new infection, or was it the same one? Her pediatrician didn’t know. Each time there was the 102 degree fever, the catheter inserted inside her tiny body for a sample as she screamed in agony and I had to watch helplessly.
Have you ever had to hold a child – your child – when she’s in pain? As tears stream down her perfect cheeks and she looks at you, as though questioning why you can’t fix it? Have you ever had to hold your baby still as they strap her limbs down so she can’t twist as a giant machine x-rays her? I hope you haven’t, because it’s terrifying.
During this time I was offered a dream job that would have paid me $10,000 more in base salary. I turned it down. Do you know why? Because we didn’t know what was causing these infections. We didn’t know if she had pre-existing conditions. We couldn’t risk the six month lapse in health insurance before the benefits in the new job would kick in.
I also began to worry about my current job because I had to take off a lot of time from work to take her to doctor appointments.
When your baby is sick it’s hard to concentrate. There was a budget presentation I had to give and as I gathered up my papers a framed photo of my baby in her pink onesie giggling caught my eye.
I began sobbing, and ran into the ladies room, shaking with fear. Her test at the Children’s Hospital was the next day and I was petrified. Would she be ok? If she wasn’t, what if the insurance said this was a pre-existing condition? How would I pay for her care? Would I ever be able to leave this job for a better one?
Have you ever felt trapped before? That’s what it felt like. Like there was no air, just fear. I had a job with healthcare but life before Obamacare meant insurance companies made the rules and, bottom line, they didn’t care about my baby; they cared about their own corporate bottom line. It was sick and I do mean that in ever sense of the word.
We were lucky. My daughter was fine. But what about all the other babies who aren’t? We are the richest nation in the world and no parent should worry about whether or not their baby will get treatment. Having a child who is sick is gut wrenching enough, why should we go back to the days when a pre-existing condition could bankrupt you as well, just so some insurance CEO gets a multi-million dollar bonus?
And now let me tell you another story, about life after Obamacare, since you asked how it affects my family.
My brother works two jobs. He is an adjunct professor of history at a community college and was also a bank teller at the time. Even though he worked two jobs they both made sure that his hours were kept below a certain limit so they wouldn’t have to pay for medical benefits.
When Obamacare passed he went to the doctor for the first time in almost a decade to get a physical, not because he thought there was anything wrong. The doctor told him it was a wonder he was still alive. He had diabetes, high blood pressure and rickets and was essentially a walking heart attack ready to happen. Through medicine, lifestyle changes and access to healthcare my brother is alive today.
The positive impact of Obamacare doesn’t stop there.
I have pre-existing conditions (cancer) and my husband is in his fifties and we can rest easy knowing that we won’t be priced out of the market. I’m no longer held hostage to a job for the medical benefits because I can afford to pay for them on my own.
I’ve lived through the nightmare of healthcare before Obamacare was in place and I’ve felt the relief of being on an Obamacare silver plan (which actually cost us less money than paying for our own coverage.)
According to the AARP under the proposed AHCA plan my husband’s insurance rates could increase five times higher and if Texas decides to get rid of essential benefits I can only imagine the cost to my family to have to go into a high risk pool.
The government shouldn’t punish its citizens for getting sick or growing older, or like millions of Americans having pre-existing conditions.
If you pass the AHCA it will directly impact me, my immediate family and my extended family. Societies are judged not by how they treat the wealthy and the powerful but by how they care for the most vulnerable among us.
And if it were your baby hot with fever, tears spilling down her face (and your own) would you care one iota about lining insurance executives pockets or would you want to know that doctors would do absolutely everything possible to save her life, regardless of pre-existing conditions?
Answer honestly. Let us keep our healthcare.