I had a stroke at age 18, so I was uninsurable on my own due to preexisting conditions my whole adult life. Fortunately, I was able to be on work based insurance because I worked since age 14. After my stroke's long rehabilitation, I received a Master's in Social Work, so I continued to always have insurance through work. In 2015 that changed when I was diagnosed with progressive cognitive impairment and Parkinson's at age 43. It is progressing quicker than my doctors had hoped. I was awarded Social Security Disability Income in only three weeks because my brain functioning is so bad, but I won't be eligible for Medicare for 2 years. Everyone who receives SSDI must wait two years to get their Medicare. At the time when people are sickest and most financially taxed, they must pay for private insurance. Before the ACA, insurers refused to cover these people and COBRA or a spouse's work coverage was the only option. My COBRA would cost $1300 per month, but I instead I pay $421, unsubsidized, through the ACA exchange Optima SilverFit plan. I am able to see all my same specialists and have gotten every test, medication and therapy to prolong my life and functioning. I recently received a bill for over $11,000, but thanks to the ACA, the amount I have to pay is $1200. My medications cost me less than $100 per month, on average. My local hospital has expanded their locally available research, care for my condition and private financial assistance as the ACA took financial pressure off their clinic system. I am able to get all the specialist care I need without traveling. If I lose my access to ACA coverage, I will die sooner and I will die a more devastating death. I want to live. I want others to live. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
--Cameron from Roanoke County
My friend, who was not fully employed and did not have health insurance (pre-ACA days), was hit by a drunk driver without auto insurance 35 years ago. She has been a quadriplegic ever since. Medicaid has allowed her to live a full life (within her limitations) and be a vibrant part of our community.
--Daphne, from Roanoke
My 19-year-old nephew has struggled, really struggled, with Cystic Fibrosis since the age of 6 months. In order to stay alive, he endures 2.75 hours of breathing treatments each day, takes an unbelievable number of medications daily, and has been hospitalized 12 times; the latest was to surgically implant a port because his veins no longer tolerate IVs. Even with his father's employer's insurance, Andrew's medical bills cost more than most monthly mortgage payments. Family members are extremely worried about Andrew's health, this pre-existing condition, and his ability to obtain insurance at a reasonable price when he ages out of his parents' policy. Another obstacle is the fact that Andrew does not have the stamina needed to work full time, so his ability to earn a living wage and support himself is absolutely nil.
Congress needs to consider this type of situation/condition when writing health care legislation. American citizens deserve affordable health care that enables them to seek and obtain life-saving medication.
--Jackie, from Roanoke
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