At this time last year, I was sick, sick as a dog. (The only thing I could eat at Thanksgiving dinner was mashed potatoes.) The ER doctors told me I needed surgery, fast. So did the specialist. He told me in great detail how dangerous my condition was, how urgently I needed to get my gall bladder out.
But I didn't have health insurance. That was that.
At some point, I found out about the pre-existing condition plans offered under Obamare. In my home state of Pennsylvania, it was even relatively affordable - less than $300 a month. There was just one problem -- there was a two-month wait before it would kick in.
Well, what would any politically astute person do? I called my state representative's office (a Republican, God help me). I asked if there was anything they could do to waive the waiting period, because my condition was urgent. The constituent services lady never even heard of the program, but promised to look into it. There were a few weeks of back and forth, but she finally got hold of the right person and told me it would start in two weeks.
When I got off the phone, I was so relieved, I cried.
Since then, because I've had insurance, I get those preventive tests you're supposed to get. They caught a precancerous polyp through my colonoscopy. (It was a lot cheaper than treating me for colon cancer.) Through an endoscopy, I was diagnosed with h.pylori, which often proceeds to gastric cancer. Next month, I will get a skin cancer exam.
And when I came down with a killer case of bronchitis this week, I could actually pick up the phone and make a doctor's appointment without freaking out about the cost. (My prescriptions are covered, too.)
These are the things you don't notice when you don't need them, or when you can afford them. But there are many more people like me, and thanks to Obamacare, we have health insurance. It's no small thing.
We all know it's not enough. We know we have a long way to go. But it's a lot better than dying, and for that, I'm very, very grateful.
It is indeed a Big F*cking Deal.