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To U.S. Senators, From a Person With Chronic Illnesses

To United States Senators:

I’m one of the 117 million Americans who have “one or more chronic health conditions,” according CDC statistics from 2012, and I’m terrified you will revoke my health insurance. I’m not here to scold you or tell you your ideas are wrong. My purpose is to educate you about those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to be born healthy.

We aren’t “bums” abusing the system and looking for handouts. We’re real people with jobs, children, spouses, families and friends. We happen to be a little less healthy than the majority of the population, but we aren’t less valuable or less deserving of fair treatment.

I admit that the Affordable Care Act has its flaws. Up through December, I was paying over $400 a month for individual health insurance. I received no subsidies because I’m married and our income is just over the threshold for aid. My husband and I struggled to afford it, but we both understood that the financial burden would be much higher if I didn’t have health insurance. I understand and support the need to revise and revamp our current health plan, but if the Affordable Care Act is repealed without a concrete, comprehensive and immediate replacement plan, millions of Americans like myself will find themselves unable to afford care.

I have Crohn’s disease, asthma and migraines. If you’re unfamiliar with Crohn’s disease, it’s a chronic autoimmune disease that primarily exists in the intestines, but it can affect other parts of the body. I experience digestive issues, as well as severe joint and back pain when I have a flare.

Since my marriage a year and a half ago, I’ve been admitted to the hospital or in the emergency room five times. Even with insurance, my husband and I had to create a GoFundMe account to help us pay my ever rising medical bills. A single kit for my weekly Humira injection costs about $2,500 without health insurance, and I receive two kits per month.

The most important clause of the Affordable Care Act guarantees that insurers cannot deny coverage based on preexisting conditions. This isn’t a matter of budgets or partisanship — this clause ensures a basic human right to health care in America for those of us who need it most. If I am denied coverage due to health-based discrimination, I won’t be able to afford medications that have given me the ability to live a fulfilling and active life. 

By repealing the Affordable Care Act in it’s entirety with no plan for replacement, you’re telling us, the sick and disabled, that our lives aren’t important. It seems like it doesn’t matter to you if we’re confined to our beds for the rest of our lives or meet an early death.

We’re the people who will face the most challenges if we’re excluded from the insurance system. So I am urging you, begging you, to please consider the millions of people you’ll be hurting.

We are not statistics. We are living, breathing Americans, and we deserve to live the best lives we can. 

Sincerely With Hope,

Shannon Adams

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