Nancy Pelosi has been working with other Democrats to host events in support of the ACA. I attended a rally at City Hall on January 15 and a town hall at Delancey Street Foundation on February 18. Pelosi is also asking constituents to send her personal stories of how we would be affected by the repeal of the ACA. I decided to adapt some of my tweets into a letter that I sent by email.
A few weeks ago, I attended your rally to save the ACA at City Hall here in San Francisco. I was proud to see the turnout across the country that weekend. For me, that day was partly about being a person in a visible crowd, but also about spending the time to hear other people’s stories. I wanted to share my own story with you to explain why it’s so important to me to fight for healthcare for everyone.
I grew up without consistent health insurance, but I got mandatory coverage when I went to college. In my senior year, a few days after a student clinic visit, I got a call insisting that I go to the ER immediately. I asked them, “Wait, what? Why? I feel fine.” They told me that they’d completed a blood test and my results contained something or other that was 3x the expected levels. They were super scared, so I reluctantly canceled my plans with friends and hopped on a bus to a nearby hospital, rolling my eyes. Getting screened in the ER was tedious because I had to wait around, but I didn’t really mind. Just like I assumed, they found levels contrary to campus clinic.
However… they did find high blood pressure. Really high. Enough that they wanted to admit me immediately to run some more tests. At this point I started arguing with them. I felt fine, no big deal. What I really meant was, “I don’t know whether I can afford to be that sick.” I find that it horrifying that I was 21 years old and had blood pressure that called for hospitalization and still tried to refuse further tests. Even though I had insurance, I was panicking that I might be on the verge of a preexisting condition that meant I could never afford a coverage gap again.
I was very lucky: my insurance covered almost all of my $23k hospital bill for a two day stay. I had a parent that taught me how to talk to institutions, including calling the hospital on the phone and asking for a payment plan. I didn’t end up with a serious health crisis. And when I graduated a few months later, I started working at a job that provided good insurance and paid enough that I could save up. But if my health had been a bit worse, or my family had been poorer, or if I’d been less educated, that could easily have been catastrophic.
Our broken healthcare system affects every single person in this country. The ACA finally gave me hope that we would fix it in my lifetime. Thank you for the support you’ve shown so far. Please continue to fight on behalf of all of us.