An Open Letter To Those Who Oppose The Affordable Care Act

My son is 25, soon to be 26 in August. For the last month or so, he’s had severe swelling in his legs, ankles, and feet. After putting it off because he couldn’t afford the copay to visit the doctor until he got paid, he finally went in on Monday. Our general practitioner started off his diagnosis with the most likely cause, high blood pressure; she prescribed lasix and potassium. Two days later, his legs were worse.

He came over yesterday morning so I could see his legs, and I immediately sent him to the Minor Emergency Clinic. Our MEC is fantastic and the doctors are amazing. They took one look at him, drew blood, took a chest x-ray, and diagnosed him with a severe enlargement of his heart. The physician’s assistant that saw him then called a cardiologist and instantly got him an appointment for an hour later.

I looked at reviews of Dr. Steve Bailey and they were excellent. When I met up with Matt at Dr. Bailey’s office, I was incredibly grateful that he is also an amazing doctor. He diagnosed Matt with viral cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. He sent him for an echocardiogram, where I saw just how enlarged my son’s heart is. As the doctor told Matt, this is what Barbara Hershey’s character died from in Beaches. Matt’s never seen Beaches, so I told him it was what the Denny Duquette character had on Grey’s Anatomy. THAT was something he could relate to, but it certainly didn’t reassure him.

Dr. Bailey said that the best case scenario would be a slew of medications to get his heart functioning correctly, then a maintenance medication for the rest of his life. He also warned us that should Matt ever be exposed to that same virus, without the meds to protect him, his “chance of recovery would be unlikely.” Dr. Bailey couldn’t diagnose the severity of the problem until he saw the echo, and he made no promises. Within an hour, I became immersed in the language of the heart; ejection fraction, stroke volume, heart rate, arteries, veins, ventricles…I have never been so grateful for my pre-nursing classes as I was yesterday.

Had the ACA not been in effect, my son would not have been covered by our insurance. Without insurance, he would have put off going to the doctor until it was emergent. Without insurance, he would not have been seen by one of the best cardiologists in the state. Without insurance, he could not afford to get an echo, and he definitely could not afford the medications required. In other words, without insurance, there would be a high probability that my son would die before age 30.

He will require medications for the rest of his life. He will need yearly echocardiograms for the rest of his life. He will need regular visits with his cardiologist for the rest of his life. Without the ACA, he would be denied insurance coverage because of his pre-existing conditions. Without the ACA, he could not afford to do all the things he will need to do for the rest of his life.

Because of the ACA, Matt does have insurance. Because of the ACA, he will continue to be insured even after he is no longer eligible to be on our policy. Because of the ACA, my son has a chance to live a normal life span, have a career, get married, have children… Because of the ACA, I still have my son.

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