I want to apologize to President Obama. But first, some background.
I found out three weeks ago I have cancer. I’m 49 years old, have been married for almost 20 years and have two kids. My husband has his own small computer business, and I run a small nonprofit in the San Fernando Valley. I am also an artist. Money is tight, and we don’t spend it frivolously. We’re just ordinary, middle-class people, making an honest living, raising great kids and participating in our community, the kids’ schools and church.
We’re good people, and we work hard. But we haven’t been able to afford health insurance for more than two years. And now I have third-stage breast cancer and am facing months of expensive treatment.
To understand how such a thing could happen to a family like ours, I need to take you back nine years to when my husband got laid off from the entertainment company where he’d worked for 10 years. Until then, we had been insured through his work, with a first-rate plan. After he got laid off, we got to keep that health insurance for 18 months through COBRA, by paying $1,300 a month, which was a huge burden on an unemployed father and his family.
By the time the COBRA ran out, my husband had decided to go into business for himself, so we had to purchase our own insurance. That was fine for a while. Every year his business grew. But insurance premiums were steadily rising too. More than once, we switched carriers for a lower rate, only to have them raise rates significantly after a few months.
Fortunately for me, I’ve been saved by the federal government’s Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, something I had never heard of before needing it. It’s part of President Obama’s healthcare plan, one of the things that has already kicked in, and it guarantees access to insurance for U.S. citizens with preexisting conditions who have been uninsured for at least six months. The application was short, the premiums are affordable, and I have found the people who work in the administration office to be quite compassionate (nothing like the people I have dealt with over the years at other insurance companies.) It’s not perfect, of course, and it still leaves many people in need out in the cold. But it’s a start, and for me it’s been a lifesaver — perhaps literally.
Which brings me to my apology. I was pretty mad at Obama before I learned about this new insurance plan. I had changed my registration from Democrat to Independent, and I had blacked out the top of the “h” on my Obama bumper sticker, so that it read, “Got nope” instead of “got hope.” I felt like he had let down the struggling middle class. My son and I had campaigned for him, but since he took office, we felt he had let us down.
So this is my public apology. I’m sorry I didn’t do enough of my own research to find out what promises the president has made good on. I’m sorry I didn’t realize that he really has stood up for me and my family, and for so many others like us. I’m getting a new bumper sticker to cover the one that says “Got nope.” It will say “ObamaCares.”
As more and more people find out about the benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Republicans are going to find it difficult to continue the “Repeal Obaaaaahmaacare” siren song. And the fact that health insurers are cutting their lobbying costs because the Department of Health and Human Services has stated that such lobbying costs cannot be counted as providing healthcare is just icing on the cake.
From The People’s View,
Their lobbying scheme didn’t work. They know it and are finally resigning to the fact that health reform is the law of the land and that they are going to have to comply with it. And since they can’t count lobbying costs as providing you with health care, lobbying costs are now in direct competition with shareholder gain. If the insurance companies want to make more money but can’t do it by kicking people off their insurance or counting everything and its mother as a “health care cost,” there are only a few ways of doing it: cut administrative costs (hello, industry lobbyists, hi! Waving atcha!), and raise revenue by attracting more customers in a level playing field.
As many of you know, I have a microprolactinoma (a pituitary tumor). Navigating the health insurance industry over the past 6 years has been a pain in the ass. I’ve wrangled with Blue Shield and I’ve been horrified by Kaiser Permanente, and the experience has left me disheartened, frustrated, and often in tears. I have found myself calculating how much time I will allow for the drugs to work and shrink the damn thing in my brain before I decide to have it surgically removed just so the procedure will be covered by insurance. It’s insane.
No one should be forced to make a significant health decision that includes life-threatening surgery simply because they don’t have the time to let non-surgical options run their course, and they won’t be able to pay for surgery should they need it. So I am very grateful to President Obama for the government’s pre-existing condition insurance plan because when my COBRA runs out, I’m going to need it.[cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles]