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I always look forward to October. I love October. I was born in October and I do a happy birthday dance from the first day to the very last day each year.
When I was a child my cousins teased me saying I was a witch because I was born in October (which was one of their nicer taunts), my Aunt Annette shared a poem with me by Helen Hunt Jackson to make me smile.
As summer’s days wind down to fall, I find myself repeating the first stanza of that poem “October’s Bright Blue Weather “as I prepare for my birthday fest.
This year I have been counting down to October 1 for another reason. It’s the first day I can shop for and sign up for health insurance thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) more commonly known as Obamacare.
More than 45 million Americans, approximately 15 percent of Americans, are un/under-insured and for the past 18 months I have been one of them.
I have been reluctant to talk or tell anyone about it. In fact, I’ve been embarrassed about the fact that I have had no medical insurance. However, as I listen to all the rancor coming from Washington, DC, I decided to “out” myself because access to affordable healthcare is not some political bargaining chip. It’s a basic human right.
I could be the poster child for why we need Obamacare.
I was at one point denied healthcare because of a pre-existing condition I did not have. I had told a doctor that in the presence of cigarette smoke I had problems breathing and coughed. I’ve never smoked but the insurance company denied me citing a pre-existing condition
The insurance I was able to get did not cover all the costs for my surgery /treatment for breast cancer and emergency room visit following an auto accident leaving me saddled with thousands of dollars of medical expenses.
And that was before the bottom dropped out and the economy tanked.
When you’re trying to make ends meet, insurance is the first to go, then you cut back on the medicines. You try to be really, really careful and you pray. You pray that you won’t get sick; you won’t get hurt and that no one will find out.
In our status driven, upwardly mobile society we’re supposed to have it all. Not having insurance, not having access to medical care meant I couldn’t take care of myself and who wants to lay claim to that? I was angry, saddened, depressed and embarrassed.
It is hard to admit that you need help and even harder to ask/accept it realizing your American dream has turned into a nightmare.
Fortunately I have only myself to take care of. It has been difficult. I am resilient. I am hopeful. But among those 45 million un/under insured Americans are families – spouses, parents, and children.
45 million men, women, young adults and families trying to be really, really careful, praying for good health and when the unthinkable happens turning to the emergency room for primary care.
These faces/my face are invisible in the vitriolics on Capitol Hill and in a society driven more by political ideology and sound bytes than the facts about the ACA.
Why did we need healthcare reform? It wasn’t a new idea. Healthcare reform had been proposed by previous administrations and defeated but it was a problem that just wouldn’t go away.
An analysis by the Center for American Progress explained without reform that the broken health care system would cost the nation between $124 billion and $248 billion in lost productivity one year alone; that uninsured Americans lived shorter lives and had poorer health.
The Institute of Medicine found that, “the estimated benefits across society in healthy years of life gained by providing health insurance coverage are likely greater than the additional social costs of providing coverage to those who now lack it.”
We will never know the numbers of Americans who died prematurely because they failed to get preventative health care or who suffered disabilities because a wound or disease went untreated.
The law was written. The act passed and in March 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), into law. The law makes preventive care – including family planning and related services – more accessible and affordable for many Americans.
In June, 2012 the Supreme Court upheld nearly all of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), in a landmark 5-4 decision.
In August, 2013 the House of Representatives tried to repeal Obamacare for the 40th time since the bill’s implementation.
As the clock ticks down on the nation’s fiscal year house Republicans again have shutdown the government by insisting on language to defund or weaken the Affordable Care Act.
Let’s be clear defunding Obamacare will NOT miraculously balance the budget, get rid of the deficit or solve the country’s economic woes. If Congress doesn’t fix the way the government spends the taxes it collects this time next year we will again be looking at raising the debt limit and falling over another fiscal cliff.
More importantly, Congress must govern putting the well being of the American public first with a focus on ending poverty, education including early education, affordable housing, addressing economic disparity and, yes, providing affordable/adequate healthcare for everyone. A lot to ask? Well that’s my American dream.
Summer has turned to fall and September ended at 11:59 PM on the 30th. October 1 comes despite the political madness in Washington.
This year I will welcome October a different way. Before starting my birthday dance I’ll be going on-line and looking at healthcare options so I can give myself the best gift of all – the gift of health.
“O sun and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather.
From October’s Bright Blue Weather by Helen Hunt Jackson