Access to Healthcare: A Matter of Life and Death, Not a Matter of Policy

I am a healthy person. I am on zero prescriptions. But I have what health insurance companies would consider preexisting conditions. I have allergies, food and environmental. This is a condition that was passed down to be from my parents. They both have allergies, so I have them also. This is an always condition, there was never a time I was not allergic to things. I had allergy shots when I was a kid. Once I changed my diet I no longer needed them.

When I was born my hip was dislocated and the doctors put it back in slightly the wrong place. Due to doctor negligence, I have always had hip issues. This is another always condition. Because of this dislocation I may have to have a hip replacement. But because of my allergies, I may have to pay for every penny of that surgery myself. The average hip replacement costs almost $40,000 for one hip. Those hip problems have also caused knee problems. If I need to have a knee replacement the average cost is almost $50,000 for one knee.

I am in remission from Lyme Disease. Another illness I did not ask for and I did not even walk in the grass nor was I in the forest to get a tick bite. Most of my issues from that illness are under control. But if I were to get sick again, most of the treatment must be paid out of pocket because insurance companies do not recognize Lyme Disease as an actual illness, despite that people die everyday from this illness. Most Lyme patients are lucky if they spend less than $50,000 a year out of pocket for treatment. Most spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get to the point where they can get out of bed again. I had thousands of dollars of medical bills and worked two jobs seven days a week and had to consider a third which would have me working twenty-four hours a day at least four times a week so I could pay those bills, none of which were covered by insurance. I had a friend tell me that I “should have saved for that”. I had not asked for her help in paying my bills. I was only lamenting that I had good health insurance, that I paid for through work and it wasn’t fair that barely anything was covered. I was very hurt by her words. Even if I started saving when I was in college I would not have had the money for those medical bills. I was lucky in terms of how much treatment I needed. Sure enough this friend had her own medical crisis a few years later that she had not saved in advance for. This situation was hard on her financially and though I never wish bad health on anyone, I do hope she learned that things happen and you can’t always save ahead for those things.

I do everything I can to stay healthy. I usually do not get sick. Each time I have been sick since I have been in remission from Lyme over the past eight years, it has been due to environmental or food allergies, which I have lived with my entire life. I never knowingly eat something I am allergic to, this only happens when restaurants put something I’m allergic to in my food and I can’t see it.

Because of all of these things I will be denied health insurance thanks to the reversal of the Affordable Care Act. I may never be eligible for health insurance again in my lifetime. I maybe go to the doctor twice a year. The only medication I take aside from something prescribed maybe once every couple of years because of an allergic reaction to food is over the counter allergy medication a few times a year. I am a healthy person despite my preexisting conditions. I should be able to get my blood work done for Lyme once a year. I should be able to go to the emergency room if there is an accident. I should be able to get surgery if needed. I should be able to do all these things and not have to pay every cent myself. One ER visit or surgery could bankrupt even a middle class person. I should be able to see a doctor to make sure I am still well so if something is wrong it can be caught right away.

Having access to healthcare is much more than for getting over illness but for staying on the path of good health. One of the biggest contributors to ill health is stress. If I am stressed out about having to work four jobs in order to save up for possible medical bills I am more likely to get sick. If I have to work four jobs in order to save up for those possible surgeries that would be paid out of pocket, that time I have to exercise, eat well and get enough sleep goes out the window. That causes more stress on the body and more opportunities to get sick. 

People get sick. Sometimes it’s because of genetics, in conditions like allergies, blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. People get hurt, sometimes because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Health is something that must be worked toward. Health is something that even if you work hard for everyday may be taken away in a second. Many healthy people get sick. Many unhealthy people never get sick.

Denying people health care because of preexisting conditions is cruel and unusual. If someone is sick they should not be denied help. If someone is healthy they should be able to see a doctor to stay healthy. This should not be a policy when this is a matter of life and death for millions of people. When a healthy person in remission from an illness can not afford to have the necessary testing done to make sure they are still in remission because they do not have health care coverage because they have to pay out of pocket, that should be illegal.

People get sick. That is why the healthcare industry exists. I should not have to pay as much money as I pay in rent each month for health insurance which I rarely use. I should not be denied coverage because I was once ill. No one should risk losing everything because they were denied health insurance and had to go to the emergency room. All the people that signed against affordable care, against healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions, against women being able to choose their gynecologist, should have all of those rights taken away from them also. If they do not want that to happen, then they should not have voted that way.

Our new President is most concerned with how he is portrayed by the weekly sketch comedy show. He says it is “not funny”. You know what I think is not funny? I think it is not funny how many people will die in this country because of their lack of access to healthcare.