I’ve been trying to come up with something light and cute to write about, but my spirits have been too low lately to write a humorous story. I’ve written quite a bit for the local newspaper and library blog, but that’s about the extent of my writing impulse lately. However, I finally HAVE gotten the initiative to write to politicians about my views on health care reform now that I’m confronting a potential health problem. It took me quite awhile, and I’d like to post SOMETHING this week, so here it is:
My name is Rebecca White Body, and I would like to express my support for the Affordable Care Act. While I understand that there are many problematic aspects, I truly appreciate the efforts of all politicians who expend their political capital tackling this complicated issue. I would also like to share my story to make the point that not all people in need of subsidized insurance are irresponsible with money and with their own personal health.
I was a high school teacher for 12 years at one of the lowest paid districts in the state. I didn’t make much money, but I was dedicated to my job and students. However, after Governor Walker took office, the rising health insurance premiums and deductibles meant that about a third of each paycheck went to keeping my one healthy child in daycare, even though I was working 50-60 hour weeks, and I didn’t dare actually GO to a doctor since the deductible was the equivalent of 6 weeks of pay. I finally decided that the stress and financial anxiety just weren’t worth it, so I left my teaching job.
I don’t regret that decision, since it allowed me to care for my son when he began Four-Year-Old Kindergarten; I had no other local daycare options available at the time, so I don’t know what else I could have done. However, I quickly found that health care costs were crushing my family. My husband is a mechanic who works for hourly wages; I work three part time jobs. I have no employer based insurance and, while my husband theoretically does, it would cost 50% of his income, leaving us very little to live on.
I applied for Badger Care for my family and was denied for reasons that are unclear to me. Then I applied only on behalf of my son–only for health insurance, although the initial questionnaire estimated that we were eligible for several other aid programs–and was again denied for reasons that were unclear to me. I gave up on Badger Care and purchased a high deductible State Farm policy in the hope that I would have a good job with benefits by the time it expired.
I was wrong. I sent out application after application, but the only jobs I’ve been offered have been temporary, low-paying, and part time; none offer benefits. That seems to be the new economy: Almost everyone I know struggles to scratch together a living from multiple low paying sources, and out-of-pocket health insurance costs are prohibitively expensive. Premiums on our initial policy went up $800 for the same high deductible coverage, rendering it unaffordable. We currently have a temporary month-to-month policy with a similar deductible, but we can only keep it for six months.
I don’t dare actually visit a doctor, even for a wellness check, because I can’t afford the deductible if any problems were found, and I’m afraid I’d have trouble finding another policy should the doctor identify a medical problem if the Republicans get their way and overturn “Obamacare.”
A nurse friend who hadn’t seen me for several months expressed concern upon visiting when she saw a large blemish on my face, observing it might be cancerous, but I can’t see a dermatologist because of the aforementioned concerns.
When Republicans talk about the “freedom” the Affordable Care Act undermines and blame it for preventing people from seeing their preferred doctors, I would like to emphasize that under the status quo, the free market is what prevents me from seeing any doctor at all. I live in constant fear now, and until health care reform becomes a reality, I’ll continue to live that way.
That’s why I’d like to thank all politicians who support reform efforts and emphasize to those who don’t that many of us who work for a living truly need them.
Thank you for taking the time to read my comments.
Rebecca White Body