As an emergency room physician, Keith is familiar with how so many can live one illness away from personal financial disaster.
“Many devastating illnesses and their consequences are preventable, if patients have access to regular primary care. The emergency room is not the place for primary care—it is heartbreaking to see patients in the ER whose situations could have been so much better if their lack of insurance and the fear of cost didn’t delay their diagnosis and treatment.”
Having worked on the frontlines of healthcare, Keith believes medical care is a core and fundamental need to be provided in a first world nation. This principle was all the more real when the issue hit close to home: one year ago, Keith was diagnosed with cancer.
This specific form of cancer has a high mortality rate, but Keith was treated early enough. As a physician, Keith had access to good medical care, but as his wife Judy describes, it was still in incredibly trying ordeal.
“Keith is fitness-oriented, the last person you’d expect to get sick. Catastrophic news like that throws you into an alternate reality, and uncertainties about what is covered with your health insurance brings on added layers of stress. We panicked over yearly and life-time benefit caps, the stress of the bills, what is going to get paid, what is not going to get paid – it compromises your care, how you feel on a daily basis, and how you are able to cope with your condition.”
“Medical bills are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in our country,” adds Keith.
“What is reassuring about the Affordable Care Act is that although a lot of the provisions have not taken effect yet, the benefit caps have already been lifted, and in the near future people will not be denied care due to preexisting conditions, like a child with diabetes or other major chronic illnesses.”
“No more lifetime limits, thanks to the ACA,” says Judy. “When I saw that, it was a huge weight off of me.”
“I found a support group on the internet for spouses of patients with cancer. Everyone wants to be the ultimate caregiver to their significant other but there’s a lot of other things on our mind too – financial concerns, losing their job or their home. I wasn’t thinking about politics at the time at all, but I saw how the Affordable Care Act as a system that works to give all Americans a fair chance.”
Keith and Judy live in Congressman Ryan’s district and have attended his town hall meetings in the past.
“I didn’t get a sense that he understood how someone’s life could be changed in an instant. How having insurance companies not be an adversary, and follow through on their commitments, could make all the difference.”
If you stand for affordable healthcare and a fair shot for all, stand with President Obama and be the first to cast your ballot starting on Monday, October 22nd.