I am voting for Barack Obama because, under the Affordable Care Act, I am now able to get health insurance coverage for the first time in almost seven years. I'm voting for him for lots of other reasons too: the future of the Supreme Court, environmental concerns, a sensible tax plan, investment in education, and his thoughtful, measured international diplomacy.
I always vote. But this is the first time in my life that an election has had such a powerful and immediate impact on my daily life. Illinois has quickly adopted policies under ObamaCare that mean I can get insurance from my state government for a reasonable rate - the same rate as a man in my age bracket - regardless of my condition. I mailed in my paperwork yesterday!
My pre-existing condition, a bleeding disorder, has made it nearly impossible to find coverage. I am a person who doesn't have health care, but wants it. This marketplace that Mitt Romney speaks so fondly of excludes me.
Sure, anchoring my career in an industry that doesn't regularly offer benefits was my choice. Going to work for a very small artisan business that can't afford to offer health benefits was my choice. But I've tried to buy private insurance in the marketplace and can't. I usually get denied because of my pre-ex, but I was once quoted a premium of $2000 per month. Spending 80% of my annual income on healthcare: not a wise choice. Having this disorder was not my choice. My husband has a small business. I someday hope to have my own small business so I can continue doing what I love everyday. I don't think we should have to go to work for a corporation to protect my health.
So when I get sick, I just hope I don't get sicker. Some people have a relationship with their doctor and can just call them up and have an antibiotic waiting for them at the pharmacy. The first Winter I lived in Chicago, I got sick and hoped not to get sicker. But I developed pneumonia and ended up in the emergency room. Draining the resources of a hospital with more important illness and trauma to deal with is the end result of my lack of preventative care. When I was released, I couldn't afford the prescription cough medicine for $400 and had to ask a pharmacist for the best over-the-counter brand instead and stayed sicker longer.
I pay for annual well-woman exams at Planned Parenthood out of pocket. Without health insurance, most doctor's in private practice will not make an appointment for you or are "not taking new patients". I pay for birth control and other prescriptions out of pocket. I pay for every visit to the Walgreens Take Care clinic for a sinus-infection out of pocket. Last year a tiny piece of metal flew into my eye from a construction site while I was walking down the street. The procedure to remove it, the follow up appointments, and the eye drops should have put me back over $1000, but I bartered with the generous ophthalmologist and paid him in pastries.
Accidents and illness happen to everyone. Why don’t I deserve to have access to a doctor? Because I have a bleeding disorder, should I spend a weekend in pain and possibly lose sight in one eye waiting for an appointment with a doctor? Or should I wait in an ER for hours and then spend years paying off the bill to save my eye? What should I do, Mitt Romney?
Under a Romney presidency, my access to family planning care might be in jeopardy. He demonizes organizations like Planned Parenthood whose primary purpose is to women’s health because they also offer access to safe, legal abortions. Yet he also would not support the easiest, clearest paths to decreasing abortions in this country (also provided by Planned Parenthood): increased sex education and access to birth control and condoms. Romney’s personal religious values would trump the private needs of female citizens and outweigh larger public health concerns. For a man so obsessed with decreasing the size and scope of government, he thinks that he can make better personal health care decisions for me than I can. Family planning for me is quite serious. A pregnancy without health coverage complicated by a bleeding disorder could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and bankruptcy. That’s a not a financially healthy or responsible way to start a family. When and how to start my family should be my choice.
I would hope Illinois would continue its new program for people with pre-existing conditions, but it wouldn't be mandated under Mitt Romney who would begin the work of dismantling "Obamacare" on day one.
I pay taxes. I work hard. I am not asking for a hand out. I am not asking anyone to give me anything for free or trying to shirk responsibility. All I am asking for is access to purchase health insurance even though it is from a broken and embarrassing corporate system. Barack Obama gives me and the rest of America that opportunity.
If you think I don’t deserve access to health insurance, you should vote for the other guy