The Affordable Care Act saved my mom’s life

Thanks Obama

In August of 2014 my mother was diagnosed with stage 4B cervical cancer.

I remember sitting next to her hospital bed when my parents broke the news to me; the cancer had metastasized from her cervix into her bladder, liver, and later into her hip.

I had no idea how bad it was, until the doctor mentioned that if we had not brought her to the hospital (for what we thought were kidney stones), she would have died within 3-6 weeks. At that point in time, my mom had very few choices for treatment: surgery or chemotherapy/radiation.

Surgery was out of the question, because a hysterectomy would have caused my mother to have an Ostomy bag for the rest of her life; she had had one before, because of a botched gastroenterology surgery which was later repaired, and dubbed those months with the bag the worst of her life. The only option left to keep my mother alive was chemotherapy and radiation, and my mom decided to endure the treatments.

My Adorable Mom

My mom had to have radiation five days a week for over two months, and because of how advanced her cancer was the doses were extreme. Every radiation treatment cost $15,000 and over those two and a half months, she had approximately sixty-five treatments.

If we did not have insurance, than we would have payed about $975,000, out of pocket. My family is upper middle class, but we have nowhere near that kind of expendable income, and that was only for the first round of treatments. For the next six months my mom endured chemotherapy every week single week for hours on end, with the cost of each treatment being about $40,000.

So twenty-four treatments, each being forty grand, adds up to $960,000. In less than a year, the treatments that saved my moms life cost roughly two million dollars.

My moms condition was pre existing (for about 3 years), and ultra advanced to the point that doctors only gave her six months to live, even with the treatments. Many insurance companies before 2014 had a “pre existing conditions” clause, where the company could deny coverage to anyone with a pre existing health condition.

This meant that if we had found her cancer a year or two earlier, my family would have had to make the choice to let her die or give up literally everything we had to save her.

Obviously we would have chosen to give up every dollar and material item to keep my mom around, but my mom said: “I could never bankrupt my family and give up everything our family had ever worked for. The guilt would be too much to live with.” That would have been the ultimate choice, but luckily we didn’t have to choose.

Me and my mom

January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act eliminated the “pre existing conditions” clause that most insurance companies had. This act forced the insurance that we had, to cover my mom regardless of her heath.

This act made made my mother’s treatments affordable, because once you’re enrolled, the plan can’t deny you coverage or raise your rates based only on your health, so we only had to pay a small portion of the nearly two million dollars my mothers care cost. This act, undoubtably, saved my mother’s life.

I want to thank President Obama and every other person who helped put the Affordable Care Act into action, because my mother wouldn’t have seen me turn 18 or graduate high school without their help.

But, that isn’t the only thing the affordable care act does. For people who have insurance, the act requires the insurer to cover FDA approved contraceptive methods without a copay or coinsurance; in other words, free birth control.

Preventative care services are also without copay or coinsurance, for doctors in network with your insurance; so immunizations, certain heath screenings, and much more are all covered. Plans are also required to cover mental health and substance services, like counseling and inpatient services.

My parents during Pitt-Start

There are so many benefits that come from the Affordable Care Act that, as students, we don’t realize because we’ve never had to pay for our own insurance. (Which is another perk of the act, any person can stay on their parent’s insurance until the age of 26)

The Act gets a bad rap, but in reality it helps a ton of people: anyone with a pre existing condition, anyone on birth control, and anyone without health insurance. I am so thankful for the help it has given
my family and families around the country.

If you are wondering about some of the facts in this post, here or here and even here.

University of Pittsburgh