Why the Affordable Care Act Matters to Me

A personal story about the impact of Obamacare. -promoted by desmoinesdem

For the past couple days I’ve been encouraging folks to share their Affordable Care Act story with their senators and congressperson. Fair’s fair. So here’s mine:

Dear Congressman Young,

You and I have talked a number of times since you introduced yourself to me and my husband Scott at the Iowa State Fair in 2014. I’ve always appreciated your willingness to listen to me.

I know that Congress will be acting on the Affordable Care Act and today I’m writing to you to tell you my Affordable Care Act story.

In very early January, 2014 my adult daughter was working full time, going to school full time and working two part time jobs to make ends meet. None of her jobs provided health insurance and she wasn’t eligible for Medicaid. In December of 2013, because of the Affordable Care Act, she had applied to the Medicaid Expansion program in her state (Illinois), but hadn’t been enrolled yet. Because she didn’t have health insurance, she also hadn’t had access to routine health care from either a gynecologist or a primary care physician.

She began to experience heavy vaginal bleeding but had always had abnormal periods and didn’t think too much of it. After a few days, she began to hemorrhage and at my urging went to the emergency room of the small hospital in her town. An ultrasound revealed that she had a very large fibroid that required surgery but because she had no health insurance yet, she given two units of blood, kept overnight for observation and sent home the next morning. She, the gynecologist who saw her in the hospital, and I all began contacting the state Medicaid agency in Illinois to pressure them to move her approval along so that she was able to receive the care she needed and the following week she was enrolled in Medicaid. Two additional hospitalizations which involved the surgery and three additional units of blood were required. When all was said and done, the invoices for the care she received was in excess of $78,000.

What I haven’t told you about my daughter yet was that she had worked since the age of 16, had always tried to be a good person and do the right thing and she was also preparing to move to another state to be married and start a new life. Had it not been for the Affordable Care Act, she would have three options: Start her new life deeply encumbered by this debt; file for bankruptcy, thus leaving a small rural hospital with this unpaid debt, or not get the care at all and likely die from something very minor. The other thing important to mention is that had she had access to health insurance all along, this could have been treated in a doctor’s office much earlier and much less expensively.

This is my Affordable Care Act Story. Please remember it when you deliberate and cast your vote.

Sincerely, Ruth Burgess Thompson

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