How the Affordable Care Act has Affected Lives

The following was written in response to a Republican politician’s request for stories about how the Affordable Care Act has affected constituents. He was hoping for horror stories, but many people are depending on the ACA for life-prolonging treatment. Her story is here:

In December 2015, our adult daughter began to have debilitating headaches. Then one morning she woke up and couldn’t focus her eyes. She saw her optometrist who sent her to an ophthalmologist who sent her to a neurological ophthalmologist. But it was the end of the year, and her insurance plan was discontinued, and she had to switch plans and start over with all new doctors. I’ll make a long story short. It took 10 months and too many tests and doctors to count for her to be diagnosed with pseudo tumor cerebri, a neurological condition that is characterized by increased intracranial pressure. The pressure was so great that it increased the pressure on her optic nerves and optic disks causing her eyes to cross. She was forced to wear prism lenses over her glasses to avoid seeing double.

After a while, even those weren’t sufficient for her to see well. With treatment, the pressure was reduced, but her eye muscles were damaged, and last December she had extensive eye surgery to straighten her eyes. They are still well aligned (thank God), but the pressure in her optic nerves and her right optic disk have begun to rise again. She is scheduled to have more tests to try to determine if she can have some stents placed to keep the pressure down. She is on some very strong drugs that have significant side effects, but she is managing. She also is facing having regular lumbar punctures or having a permanent shunt placed to keep the volume of cerebrospinal fluid down.

Our daughter works in a skilled professional position but is hired on a contract basis and has no benefits. She was only able to get health insurance through the ACA marketplace. If she hadn’t had that insurance, she would probably either be blind or dead by now. Even if we had sold our home and cashed out our retirement, we probably could not have paid for more than 1 to 2 years of her medical expenses. Is the system perfect? No! But it saved my child’s life. I’m sure that there are many similar stories. So, obviously, I am a supporter of the ACA. Its repeal would have devastating results for so many people.

Personally, I believe that the problem lies with giving too much power to the private insurance companies. Maybe that’s a political judgement; I’m not sure. What I know is that the CEO of our insurance company, Aetna, makes over $40,000,000 each year. I cannot begin to image how that is merited.

I suspect that you are a supporter of the state high risk insurance pool. Here is a link to an article that reviews those pools, and the results are disturbing.

I ask that you read it with an open mind. I know that there are problems with the ACA, but I also know that the ACA has ensured coverage for millions of people who would otherwise have NO care at all. PLEASE, do not repeal this life-giving law.

 

About ethicsbeyondcompliance

I hold a PhD in medical humanities with an major emphasis in ethics. I began teaching college-level ethics in 2000.
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