Dear Undecided Voters,
I am writing this letter to share our story. It’s an election year, but my letter is not meant to spark an argument about candidates or politics. I hope to put a human face on a very large public policy decision that matters.
However, I do want to make sure you know that Mitt Romney has vowed, on Day One, to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And I want you to know how frightening that is for our family.
So I tell this story for my son, Cameron, but this story could be yours.
Cameron suffered from kidney disease from the time he was six months old. Unfortunately, his kidneys failed when he was in high school, and he had to go on dialysis for eight months. Thankfully, our dear friend volunteered to be a donor, and Cameron received this new kidney and a new life his junior year in high school. We are forever thankful to our friend and the doctors and nurses who took care of him. And we are forever grateful to Blue Cross and Blue Shield, our insurance company.
If we had not had employee-based insurance, these would have been our costs:
Nightly, at-home dialysis: $266 per night
Transplant operation: $250,000
Anti-rejection drugs: Over $1,200 per month
As you can see, the costs are staggering. But we have insurance, which meant we weren’t bankrupted by his disease.
I am telling this story because Cameron is now affected by public policy in ways that healthy people are not. Cameron is now in the ranks of those who suffer from a chronic disease, and now has, at the age of 18, a pre-existing condition. Chronic diseases take a physical and emotional toll on families, but they also exact another price—a financial burden that can be devastating, and a deep insecurity about the future.
For our family and others like ours, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) means Cameron can stay on our insurance until he’s 26 while he attends college, graduates, and gets a job.
But what if Cameron’s future employer drops coverage? What if he’s laid off? What if he goes, even for a brief time, without insurance? Under the old system, insurance companies could legally deny him coverage, an understandable temptation given the cost of treatment. But this is the very reason we need health insurance—to save families from financial devastation when the unthinkable disease or accident strikes.
Thanks to the ACA, Cameron can’t be denied insurance in the future.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the currently healthy (trust me, there is never a guarantee in life) join the pool of all the insured, creating a larger risk pool that ensures a system where every American can have access to affordable, quality health care. This notion of everyone paying into health care was originally a conservative proposal and one that makes sense.
One final, but important, protection of the Affordable Care Act: Cameron will not have to worry that an insurance company will create an arbitrary lifetime cap to cut him off from future coverage. We don’t expect anyone to guarantee Cameron anything in life—he has to work for his future goals. But we are thankful that Cameron can pursue his goals knowing that he will be able to find an insurance policy that will provide him the health care services he needs now and will need in the future.
When you vote this November, please consider the millions of us with family members who will always worry about their loved ones, who will face a very different future if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.
And please remember how quickly—but for the grace of God, luck, or genetics—this story could be your own.—Diane, Texas