A Story about Obamacare

Hello from the Philippines! I’m still here for another 8 days so I’ve been catching all of the current events a bit late. I just watched President Obama’s final address from Chicago and I had my own personal reactions to it. I’m actually really scared to write this post because I never talk about politics here. Not because I don’t keep up or don’t have an opinion on today’s politics but because I don’t feel it is my job to force my opinions on others. As citizens, I feel it is our job to do our own research, due diligence, and align ourselves with the policies and civil leaders that most closely line up with our own hopes for our country. NOT JUST OUR PERSONAL BELIEFS, but the leaders that stand for what the WHOLE country can benefit from. With all things, I feel our job isn’t to criticize, ridicule, or change other peoples’ minds. We live in America after all, where people are entitled to their own opinions and beliefs. What I feel like I am here to do, however, is to share a little bit about what Obamacare and President Obama’s 2 terms has done for me and my family.

For most of my life my mom and dad were small business owners/independent contractors. I was actually very lucky to watch them succeed in their businesses while I was growing up. As much as I tried to fight it growing up I ended up embodying their entrepreneurial spirit and starting businesses of my own. Because of them I am the business owner I am today. But owning your own business meant one major drawback – health insurance. My parents couldn’t get health insurance because of 2 major reasons – 1. They weren’t employed by a company and 2. they both had preexisting conditions.

For most of my life my parents couldn’t get health insurance. Heck, as a teenage until recently I didn’t have health insurance except for ER visits because to insure just me was really expensive. When I was younger I didn’t realize how scary this was. You know when you’re a kid you don’t want or need to go to the doctor. I didn’t realize how scary not having insurance was until a few years ago.

I remember when President Obama’s Affordable Care Act passed. At the time I was about 28 and about to become self employed. My parents and I were kind of excited it was happening, considering we were uninsurable up until that point. My mom told me to sign up for Covered California, shop for insurance plans, and that my parents were going to do the same. We heard that insurance would go into effect on January 1, 2014. So everything was all fine and dandy until October of 2013.

My mom noticed a lump in her breast while showering. Before telling anyone, mom went to her long time friend who was a doctor and asked her for help. Her doctor friend said that she needs to get it checked right away but that she wouldn’t be able to help her since it wasn’t her area of study. So she sent my mom to a colleague to get a mammogram and MRI. You guys know the rest, it was breast cancer.

Me, my Dad, and my Mom before they left for my mom’s mastectomy in the Philippines
October 2013. There she was. My mom was merely 3 months away from having insurance. 3 months. Normally 3 months would seem like a short amount of time, but when you’re sick every day counts, every decision counts. She had to make a choice, pay tens of thousands of dollars for surgery in the US, risk it and wait for her insurance to kick in (not a chance), or go the the Philippines to have her surgery done. Thank God her brother is a surgeon. My uncle was able to perform her mastectomy in the Philippines because there would have been no way we could afford the surgery in the US. The tens of thousands was just the surgery, no hospital stay, no cancer treatments, nothing.

I’m not going to pretend that the whole process of getting her set up with Covered California went smoothly. It wasn’t easy. While she was in the Philippines she would be on hold at 3 in the morning (Philippines time) for hours with Covered California to make sure that everything was set before she came home to the US to start treatment. I would be on the phone for hours, emailing, or faxing them too with the documents they needed to make sure that she would have coverage the day the Obamacare would go into effect. But it was worth it if there was a chance to save my mom’s life. We didn’t complain, we didn’t huff and puff, we just got it done. And we did with patience and grace.

Dec. 25, 2013 when my parents returned from mom’s surgery

Because of Obamacare, my mom had insurance despite her preexisting condition, was able to go to one of the leading cancer treatment facilities, and lived for 3 more years. What would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars (maybe much more) of chemo treatments, radiation treatments, doctor visits, ER visits, and hospice care suddenly became more bearable for her, my dad, and me. I can’t even imagine what kind of bills I would have had to incur if she didn’t have insurance.

As I watch what is unfolding in the US I’m saddened by today’s current news about the repeal of Obamacare. I know that it’s not perfect by any means, but the core of his measures have helped my family tremendously in ways that I can’t fully explain. Like I said, it’s not perfect but I truly believe it’s a good start. To move to repeal it without presenting a reasonable plan in place just scares me. I can’t imagine what we would have done if my mom couldn’t get insurance and it makes me so sad that families like mine might have to go through that.

I’m not here to tell you what to think about politics, who to support or not support, but I just want to merely shed a little light on what Obamacare has done for me and my family. If only I could give my sincere thanks to President Obama for the Affordable Care Act. If it wasn’t for his measure, I don’t know what kind of nightmare my family would have had to go through the last 3 years. More importantly, I don’t even want to think about what my mom would have had to go through. I am so grateful that Obamacare gave my mom a fighting chance and gave me a chance to live a healthy life of my own. 



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