Five years ago I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma. Still, I’m the lucky one. I could afford treatment.
Too many people in America do not have the health care they need, even today. The 2021 US bailout included subsidies to make health insurance more affordable than ever, leading to a record 14.5 million Americans enrolling in health insurance for 2022.
The expiry of these vital life-saving subsidies is just around the corner. And unless renewed, voters will get news of their 2023 premium increases just before the midterm elections in November.
I am a small business owner and my health insurance has been through the Affordable Care Act since it was an option. Before the ACA I had junk insurance. There was no better option for small business owners and freelancers. I took the risk because I had no other choice. And then I got cancer.
It cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to save my life to pay for the six months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation treatments that I needed to remove the malignant tumors in my body. If I still had that junk insurance policy, I’d be broke or dead today.
But instead, I could afford to be in remission. Because I was diagnosed and treated after having an ACA health insurance policy, the Affordable Care Act covered my devastating costs after the deductible went into effect. However, surviving cancer does not come cheap. I still have medical bills every year because my care team includes multiple cancer and long-term survivorship specialists. My health insurance is my lifeline.
If I still had that junk insurance policy, I’d be broke or dead today.
I didn’t qualify for subsidies in 2017, but luckily I could afford the out-of-pocket costs for a subsidized ACA plan. Many Americans cannot.
Without swift action by Congress, tens of millions of Americans will face steep premium increases that will take them off health insurance. Congressional inaction will deprive them of life-saving care — during a global pandemic. Many millions of Americans will face lifelong medical conditions based on COVID-19 alone.
Senators are officially back in their offices after a two-week break. As they set their agenda for the final few days before the Aug. 5 recess, they must prioritize renewing Obamacare subsidies in any upcoming reconciliation bill negotiations. The deadline for the budget bill is Sept. 30, but insurance companies are already pricing their increases for next year.
Republicans have been consistent in their opposition to life-saving access to health care and have voted against Americans’ health care for years. They will not act to support the ACA in a bipartisan manner. So all 50 Democrats in the Senate and the majority of Democrats in the House must come together to avoid the impending disaster if these health insurance subsidies expire. President Biden is calling for the renewal of ACA subsidies in the American Rescue Plan now, Congress must act on it.
American lives hang in the balance – there is no time to waste. Too many of us live in fear that our health will be at risk. Going without insurance is not an option when you have a chronic illness or condition, or the possibility of a recurrence of cancer, heart attack or stroke.
Please contact your senators and representatives today to push them to finally make health care affordable, starting with renewing ACA subsidies in the budget reconciliation bill now. We will all be health care voters in November, but action on the Advanced Premium Tax Credit must be taken now.
About this column
This column was originally published by Colorado Newsline, which is part of the State Newsroom, a network of newsrooms supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact editor Quentin Young with questions: [email protected]. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.