A Mom’s Perspective on Affordable Healthcare

Thrive Editor Sarah Schroeder is a 32-year-old mother, wife, and writer.  She writes the blog “Twinkle Toes and Ninja Boy,” a chronicle of her life as she parents her children in a Unitarian Universalist household in partnership with her husband and the love of her life, David Schroeder. She has agreed to have Thrive republish blog posts that we believe will strike a chord with our readers. To read more please visit her blog, www.twinkletoesandninjaboy.com

I am about to dust off my soapbox, the one I try to keep away from this blog in favor of stories about the ultimate truth as seen by my children. A government shutdown was waged, a shutdown that hurt families, over an issue that shakes me to my core. It is shameful that in 2013, people we place in power still believe it is in the best interest of our country to balance the checkbook of our nation not by ending wars, but by denying access to health insurance for families

My knee-jerk reaction, complete with unfair leaps of logic based on feelings outside of facts, is that those against Obamacare want us to fall into a “survival of the fittest” behavior model, a model that would make it impossible for the three people I love most to survive.  I told you it was reactionary, but here are the driving forces behind this reaction.

1. Children sometimes have illnesses

My husband and I spent 100% of our life savings and then twice that much in credit in a two-year period during which our oldest child, my husband, and I all had crazy health issues. We had health insurance, but sometimes insurance companies would rather spend their money proving that they should deny you coverage then to cover your healthcare needs. At one point, because my husband and daughter both have preexisting conditions, I switched jobs and paid over $2,500 a month (well over 60% 0f our total family income) towards their medical costs. I did this until we were on the new plan for 6 months, at which point they were finally allowed to receive services from the new insurance. Then my daughter was covered, but my husband wasn’t, because…

2. Mental illness is as real as any other illness, but health insurance companies can out-maneuver the mental health parity law and deny people access to life-saving services and medications.

In 2004, I worked for an Illinois mental health association during the mental health parity debates. The good guys won and mental health parity is law, but the guys with the most money can still pay their way around following the law. There were times my family spent over $500 out of pocket every month, in addition to high premiums, on medication and doctor visits related to mental-health issues, even though we had health insurance. At one point, I had to leave one job and find a new one because…

3. When health insurance is tied to employment, it means that people cannot chose jobs based on interests and aptitude, but instead must examine benefits plans and make sure that the insurance is good enough to cover the needs of the family. This is especially important in our family because…

4. Until Obamacare was enacted, companies that offer insurance directly to clients could refuse clients for any reason, but nearly always rejected people with preexisting conditions.

Our family tried to get supplemental insurance for our daughter. We tried to buy insurance outside of the workplace because my coverage did nothing for her illness. We were told that she would not qualify for insurance coverage until age 11, and only then if she was hospitalization free for at least 5 years. Thank you, President Obama, for making that practice illegal.

There they are: the four personal reasons why I find all arguments against health insurance reform repugnant and react to them as a personal attack on my family. If I put on my political science hat, I could give well-documented, sensible arguments for universal coverage.  If I put on my social-service hat, I could give a passionate plea about the collective good. But here I wear the hat of a mom to a child who had thrombocytosis and immunoglobulin deficiency, the hat of a mom to a child with chronic asthma, the hat of a wife to a wonderful man with bipolar disorder, and the hat of a person tired of basing every decision about my career path on whether or not my decision to follow my heart would selfishly put my family at risk.

The law has passed. The Supreme Court has deemed it constitutional. Thousands of families had to suffer through a needless government shutdown to block a law that was already law. Can we all just stop the theatrics and let families get on with the very basic human right of receiving care while ill?

 

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