Emelia is a recent college grad working two part-time jobs and planning to go to graduate school. Like many young Americans she hasn’t yet found a job that offers health benefits, and she can’t afford a plan of her own.
Fortunately Emelia, who's 23, is covered by her mother’s insurance thanks to health care reform, which allows young adults to stay on their parent’s plan until they turn 26.
The insurance gives Emilia some peace of mind. “I have friends without health insurance, and I’m concerned and terrified for them every day,” she says. “I’m grateful for not being in that position.”
Peace of mind is something her father, Brandeis, is hoping for, too. For the past 25 years, he has lived with two painful autoimmune diseases—ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis—that are eating at his joints and starting to fuse his spine.
“Without that insurance, my situation would be dire,” Emilia says. “My dad has an [inheritable] autoimmune disease, and we have really scary cancers that run on both sides of the family. I’ve had some gynecological scares, and I’m really glad I had insurance to take care of that.”
Medication provides her father with some relief from pain and increases his mobility. Every seven weeks, the retired deputy Colorado state public defender sits in a chair at an infusion center for half a day while a designer drug drips into his veins. The cost for each treatment is more than $5,000.
But he says he won’t have peace of mind until the Act goes into full effect. That’s why he volunteers every week for the Obama campaign, calling Coloradans to talk to them about the Act and share his story.
“You have a right to decent health care,” Brandeis says. “No one should be denied access because of financial circumstances.”
He’s counting on the preexisting condition protections of the Affordable Care Act, which go into effect in 2014, to ensure he has options for insurance. But he worries that opponents will repeal the Act before it fully takes effect.
“I’m not asking for a third home in the Caymans. I’m not asking for a trip to Europe,” he adds. “I just want to be healthy.”
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