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Health Shouldn't Be Political

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There’s a lot going on right now in the world, but right now I’m focused on politics. There’s a lot going on all at once even then, but I’m specifically paying attention to one thing in particular — health insurance.

There is so much in politics that applies to me and the people I care about, but for me health insurance is what makes my hair stand on end at this moment. It’s what, in all honesty, keeps me up at night right now. It’s been doing so for much of life, but after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed, I slept a little better. After the recent elections, though, I felt concerned and worried again. I felt defeated. I felt annoyed. I felt like a step had been taken regarding healthcare, but now will we go back? Will we have to fight all over again? All of these questions, emotions, and much more have been heightened as of this week.

I live with multiple chronic illnesses. The ones that are at the forefront of my mind with care, costs, and insurance coverage in this political climate are my type 1 diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, and endometriosis (with my anxiety along for the ride when I’m thinking about everything).

Many of us have to fight to live already. We fight each day. People fight for us and with us. I wonder why we have to keep fighting for so much that honestly… we shouldn’t have to fight for.

The ACA gave me and many others protections. It gave us a choice. A chance. Hope.

Pre-existing conditions. They follow me like a cloud. I’ve felt this cloud since I was about 12 years old.

You hear people say a lot of things. Things that feel like an attack on me, my health, and my life. One thing I’ve seen: “Well, you should have gotten insurance before you had a pre-existing condition.”

I did — really great insurance actually, but when my dad passed away, we lost it. We struggled after that. We were left with a not-so-great company through my mom and dad jumping through hoops before he passed away — a jumbled retirement plans of sorts that my mom had to pay to keep me on. But they would threaten to kick me off constantly, and I’d often get “lost” in the system.

My mom tried to get better insurance for both of us or find other jobs, but she would get turned away… because of me. Because I had a pre-existing condition, she couldn’t get me on insurance. She got multiple jobs. I babysat then got part time jobs when I was old enough. We hoarded medical supplies because we never knew when there was going to be an issue. We fought to get the amount of things I needed to take care of myself. I applied for as many scholarships as possible and worked in college. We utilized payment assistant programs and Children’s Medical Services until I was 21 because of how little the insurance company covered (and our financial status). This was all to cover the costs of the things I needed to stay alive and to plan if there was an issue.

I pushed myself toward a certain direction in life because insurance would always be a factor. But then something happened… The ACA passed and made it through multiple hoops and became an actual thing.

My pre-existing conditions wouldn’t hold me back from the path I wanted to take now. The hurdle of having them wasn’t quite as high of a jump for me anymore. I had a choice in my paths because I couldn’t be denied coverage anymore.

When I had issues with my former insurance company, I had law to back me up, which I always reminded them on our many phone calls about the issues they created. After I graduated college and got new health insurance, I found myself crying tears of happiness. The costs were lower. Things were more transparent. I didn’t have to fight so hard. I actually had some choices in my care. Most of the people I interacted with from the insurance company and my choice of a pharmacy treated me like I was a human being first. I wasn’t fighting as hard anymore. I was out of survival mode.

It shakes me to my core that we are getting ready to fight again, and all because of partisan politics. You can see it in the votes that have started regarding the ACA. Mostly down the middle and in the secret of night.

If you take to social media, you find interviews and comments against ACA. You’ll also find stories and experiences about all of the people the ACA has helped. I’ll be the first to admit, the ACA isn’t perfect. It needs work. But I think it was finally a step towards the right direction. Even before ACA, insurance needed a lot of work and still does.

When I see so many attacks about the ACA and plans to get rid of it with no replacement, my hairs sticks up. My anxiety riles up inside, and I struggle with the “what if” aspect of my anxiety.  Many of us are sitting on the edge. Advocating when, where, and how we can. Preparing for the worst, but holding onto a piece of hope.

My health. My life. Our health. Our lives. This is all at the center of politics and being pushed around by which party “wins.” That’s what it feels like to me. It isn’t about the American people. It’s about which party wins. It isn’t about our health, our journeys, and the fighting we already do.

Health (among other things) shouldn’t be about political parties. It should be about the actual people.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: January 20, 2017
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