Even doctors depend on the Affordable Care Act (Guest post: Sabine Brown)

Sabine Brown is a political activist, physician assistant, and mother of two.

One in three Oklahomans have a pre-existing condition that could have been used to deny them health insurance coverage prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). My husband, Eric, is one of those Oklahomans.

When my husband was a small child, he was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma. He was treated at St. Jude’s hospital in Memphis. Although his treatments and back and forth trips from Oklahoma City were rough, he has good memories of the staff that took care of him. One memory that stuck with him is a doctor who wrote an order for him to have pizza every day when that was the only food he would tolerate during chemotherapy treatments. The experience ultimately inspired him to become a doctor himself.

Eric started medical school in 2003, which coincided with the time he could no longer be on his parent’s insurance plan. He started filling our applications for private insurance. The rejections letters rolled in. No one would accept him because of his previous cancer diagnosis.

Now, Eric is a board-certified emergency medicine physician. We are lucky. We have group insurance and thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits insurers from denying coverage or charging higher premiums for preexisting conditions, we can rest easy knowing that if he ever lost his job, we could get health care coverage for him.

Until now, that is. If Congressional Republicans make good on their promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, we could find ourselves in the absurd situation where the doctor in our family is uninsurable.

Several lawmakers, like Senator Lankford, have promised there won’t be repeal without a replacement plan. So far, the details on what that might look like have been sparse. Sen. Lankford has stated that he supports high-risk pools and health savings accounts. Unfortunately, we’ve been there before. We only need look back less than 10 years ago to see what the effects of such a plan might be. During our quest to get Eric health care coverage, we received an invitation to reapply for high-risk insurance — but it would have cost about half of our monthly income. We were both full-time students living off of student loans at the time. We had just enough to cover our daily living expenses and certainly did not have money left over to put into a health savings account.

[pullquote]“We are all just one catastrophic event away from needing the benefits that the ACA provides.”[/pullquote]

Repealing the ACA without a decent replacement plan would not only keep people like my husband from obtaining affordable care, but it would also affect those who currently have insurance. Prior to the ACA, even otherwise good health plans often had lifetime caps of a few million dollars. The insurance plan covering Eric as a child had a lifetime cap of $100,000. He met that within one year of his cancer diagnosis. We are all just one catastrophic event away from needing the benefits that the ACA provides. And let’s not forget that the simple fact of being a woman of childbearing age was enough to pay more in premiums.

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t think our health care system needed improving. But when your car has a bald tire or needs the oil changed, you don’t set your car on fire. Now is not the time to throw away the progress we have made only to return to the failed policies of the past.

The opinions stated above are not necessarily those of OK Policy, its staff, or its board. This blog is a venue to help promote the discussion of ideas from various points of view and we invite your comments and contributions. To see our guidelines for blog submissions, click here.

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The opinions stated in guest articles are not necessarily those of OK Policy, its staff, or its board. To see our guidelines for blog submissions, click here.

One thought on “Even doctors depend on the Affordable Care Act (Guest post: Sabine Brown)

  1. A chilling tale! Thank you for sharing your personal story. We must all fight to keep the progress and security of our health insurance. Count me in!

    If only people would take the time to understand the protections given in the ACA have changed what every person with insurance today has coverage for as a result of the provisions of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

    Improve the ACA – don’t repeal.

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