Today is the anniversary of the day members of Congress tried to take away my health care. (Luckily, the Senate stayed strong in support of the law).
I spend a lot of time thinking about how the Affordable Care Act will help other people access health care. Today, on the anniversary of the day the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the law, I want to reflect on what I would have lost if the repeal effort was successful.
1. I don’t have to make employment choices based on health care.
When I decided to go to law school, I was searching for a diagnosis for debilitating pain. The idea of giving up my employment based coverage when I had an unknown condition that was likely chronic was terrifying. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have to try and get coverage on the individual market to know I would be denied because of pre-existing conditions. So I decided to go to school at night and work full-time. Like many Americans, I had to make an important employment decision based on my health.
- No insurance company can deny me coverage for a pre-existing condition,
- No insurance company can charge me more because I’m sick,
- No insurance company can charge me more because I’m a woman, and
- New Exchanges will provide market places to find and enroll in coverage.
2. Preventive services including no copay pap smears.
I realized recently that I couldn’t remember the last time I had a cholesterol screening. So I made an appointment and, low and behold, I did not have to pay any copay for the wellness visit and screenings. That is because the Affordable Care Act requires new health plans provide many preventive services with no cost sharing, including:
- Annual wellness visit and associated screenings
- Screening for breast cancer, cervical cancer and HPV
- Reproductive health services including contraceptive coverage
3. I will have better access to pain treatment.
I postponed seeking treatment for my pain for years because of a fear of treatments. I overcame that fear, only to discover the existing treatment is lacking leaving me in severe pain on many days. The treatment I have isn’t always easily accessed. I once found myself driving to pharmacies in multiple towns because of a drug shortage.
But a lesser known provision of the Affordable Care Act directed the creation of a blueprint to transform pain treatment and improve research, education and pain care. Under this provision, the Institutes of Medicine released a report that details specific actions that can be taken with a goal of providing relief for people with pain. I cried when I read the report.
4. My friends don’t have to worry about their children hitting a lifetime maximum.
I heard about this mythical time in my life when everybody around me would be having babies. That time is now. Unfortunately, three of those babies spent their first days in the NICU and one had open heart surgery at 3 months. Having good insurance meant their mothers didn’t have to worry about the hospital bill. But, even good insurance used to have a lifetime maximum that some children with complex health conditions would hit in their first year. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, my friends don’t need to worry about lifetime maximums, just like they don’t have to worry about their sons ever being denied coverage because they were born with pre-existing conditions.