One Stroke of Bad Luck and Anyone Can Find Themselves Unable to Work and Without Insurance


My family doesn't fit the stereotype presented of those who benefit from the Affordable Care Act: we are solidly middle class and my husband and I have four Bachelor’s degrees between us. My background is in finance; he is a software developer - both are traditionally lucrative fields. We have jobs, pay taxes, and do not receive any type of public assistance.

However, I have a condition that is classified as a primary immune deficiency. In extremely simple terms, my blood does not contain a type of cell that is necessary to fight any type of infection or disease. Fortunately a treatment does exist, but it involves receiving an IV infusion monthly for the rest of my life. These infusions are expensive; each treatment costs approximately $10,000 (or $120,000 per year). If I opted to forgo treatment, I would likely die within several years, and would certainly suffer major lung infections in the meantime.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, purchasing an insurance policy in the private market was impossible for me, and my family was one job loss away from financial destruction. If my employer-provided insurance policy lapsed for any reason, my immune deficiency could be denied coverage for the rest of my life. Under the Affordable Care Act, I can’t be denied coverage because of my pre-existing condition, nor can I be charged an astronomical premium because of said condition.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, the lifetime limit on an insurance policy was a major concern for my family. A $1M lifetime cap on coverage doesn’t go very far when your annual health-care costs are, at a minimum, $120,000. This translates to roughly eight years of coverage for a condition that will be life-long. Once that cap was reached, I would be faced with limited options — find coverage in the private market (impossible) or search for a new job that hopefully came with adequate health insurance.

My family is the type of family that the Republican Party spent the last two years trying to appeal to — young, educated, professional, income earners. However, it’s very possible that if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, my family will be bankrupt by medical bills and forced to turn to public assistance. And we aren’t unique. It just takes one diagnosis, one car accident, one stroke of bad luck and anyone can find themselves unable to work, without health insurance (if we go back to a good job being the only way to get decent coverage), and buried in medical bills they have no chance of paying.

Our economy works best when Americans can strive for their full potential — being innovative, forming new companies, inventing new products and creating new jobs. Repealing the Affordable Care Act without offering as good, or better, protection for people with chronic conditions won’t just decimate the poor; plenty of families like mine will be, at best, making career decisions based on health insurance, or, at worst, staring down the barrel of financial destruction.