President Barack Obama visits with Affordable Care Act letter writer roundtable participants in the Oval Office following a meeting in the Roosevelt Room, Feb. 3, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Asked and Answered: Five Letters on Why Affordable Health Coverage Matters Across America

“The Affordable Care Act has improved people’s lives. And we can’t go backward.”

A 55-year-old woman in North Carolina who finally knows the peace of mind that comes with health insurance. A husband in Michigan facing cancer surgery for a second time whose wife won’t be burdened by medical bills. A member of the law enforcement community in Scranton whose health is protected on the job.

Read the stories of five Americans whose lives have been changed by affordable health care — and then read the President’s responses to their heartfelt notes of thanks.

Don’t have health insurance? The deadline for coverage starting on January 1, 2017 ends today, December 15th. Sign up now at HealthCare.gov.


Letter from Anne Bunting: “I tell everyone that you saved my life and I truly believe that.”

November 13, 2016
Anne Record Bunting
Houston, Texas
Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for saving my life. My name is Anne Record Bunting. In 2008, I was diagnosed with Heart Failure (HF) and had a pacemaker implanted. I was in the final stages of HF. I did well until 2012 when my heart began to fail again. By July, 2013, I was once more in final stages of HF. I was told I needed a heart transplant and was put on the list. That’s when we discovered that my individual insurance policy (I was self-employed) did not cover a heart transplant.
The only way to save my life was to implant a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD- like Dick Cheney). A few hours after that surgery, the doctors realized that the right side of my heart was dying. So they went back in and implanted a VAD on the right side of my heart. I was the first person at that hospital to survive this surgery and go home.
My heart was powered by 2 pumps run by computers and batteries which were attached to me at all times. I lived with those pumps for 9 months. Then in 2014, the Affordable Care Act came into being and abolished the restriction of pre-existing conditions. I was able to get an insurance policy that covered heart transplants and was put back on the list. 10 days later, I received the gift of life through a heart transplant. So, I tell everyone that you saved my life and I truly believe that.
You and the First Lady have both been wonderful leaders. Thank you both for what you have done for our country and its people.
And thank you again for saving my life.
Anne Bunting

President Obama’s Response

December 9, 2016
Ms. Anne Record Bunting
Houston, Texas
Dear Anne:
Thank you for your kind words and for taking the time to share your moving story with me. It’s clear you have faced tremendous challenges over the last few years, and I am glad to hear the Affordable Care Act helped you to get a heart transplant when you needed it most. Your story highlights how the Affordable Care Act has been life-changing for so many Americans. And in some cases, even life-saving. As a result of so many more people having coverage, we’re avoiding an estimated 24,000 deaths annually. And countless other Americans are living better lives because they’re receiving the care they need and deserve. It is why I worked so hard to pass health reform in the first place.
Again, thank you for writing and for your support. Michelle and I send our very best.
Sincerely, 
Barack Obama

Letter from Lauren Caruso: “I am afraid for my husband, and for all the people that will be affected if the ACA is repealed.”

November 10, 2016
Mrs. Lauren Caruso
Raleigh, North Carolina
Dear President Obama,
I feel like a kid writing a letter to Santa Clause; I doubt you’ll ever see this. But even if I’m writing into the void here, I want to express my gratitude to you for everything you’ve done for our country over the last eight years. You’re the first politician I ever really believed in, and I still do.
My husband, Josh, was diagnosed with a chronic liver condition when he was in his mid-twenties. A rare, not very well known disease, called primary sclerosing cholangitis. Over time, his body is actively destroying his liver, and without a transplant and life long medications and care, he will die. Currently, he is doing okay, he gets by and some days are better than others. We deal with his symptoms as they arise, and he is receiving excellent care at Duke. He has a good job and good benefits and insurance, but I always felt comforted by the existence of the ACA, and that if for some reason he lost his job, he couldn’t be denied care because of his preexisting condition. Now, with the recent state of events, I am afraid. I am afraid for my husband, and for all the people that will be affected if the ACA is repealed. I do not believe that health care should be a luxury for the wealthy.
But my current dread does not lessen my gratitude for what you’ve done for us. Thank you for trying to make sure people struggling with illness, whether rich or poor, are treated with kindness and dignity. It meas so, so much. Thank you for helping me sleep better at night for the past few years. You, and your charming and gracious wife will be sorely missed.
Thank you, thank you.
With warmest regards,
Lauren Caruso
P.S. Please convince Michelle to run for office in 2020!!

President Obama’s Response

December 9, 2016
Ms. Lauren Caruso
Raleigh, North Carolina
Dear Lauren:
I wanted to thank you for taking a chance and sharing your story with me — I really did read your message personally! Everyone deserves the comfort of knowing they will have access to quality, affordable health insurance no matter what the future holds, and I am glad to know the Affordable Care Act helped your family gain some peace of mind during a difficult time. Your email reminded me why I fought so hard to reform our health system in the first place.
The Affordable Care Act has improved millions of people’s lives. 20 million more people are covered, 129 million people with pre-existing conditions are protected, and health price inflation has been at its lowest level in 50 years. But beyond the numbers, the work of health reform is really about people like you. Sharing your story with family and friends — and ensuring they, too, have the peace of mind that comes with having health care — can hlep make sure we build on the progress we’ve made, not go backwards.
Again, thank you for writing. Your story will remain on my mind. Michelle and I wish you and Josh the very best.
Sincerely,
Barack Obama

Letter from Julie Chamberlain: “I finally got my own health insurance for the first time in my life at the age of 53.”

November 9, 2016
Ms. Julie Ann Chamberlain
Greenville, North Carolina
I am 55 year old woman, actually about two weeks younger than you, and I finally got my own health insurance for the first time in my life at the age of 53. I was able to do this because there is the ACA and ACA subsidies. I say thanks Obama, and I truly mean this with all my heart. I would like to know what I can do to help save the ACA ?It has given me a piece of mind to know that I have health insurance, finally , and that if I have the stroke at some point in my life, that as a migraine sufferer, I am statistically likely to have, that I will be covered. I don’t want to lose my health insurance. I plan on writing my senators and representative to let them know of my situation and how strongly I feel about keeping the ACA. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help protect the ACA and I will do whatever it takes.
It has been an honor to have you as President. Thank you for all you have done for this nation.

President Obama’s Response

December 9, 2016
Ms. Julie Ann Chamberlain
Greenville, North Carolina
Dear Julie:
Thank you for writing. Serving in this Office has been the greatest privilege of my life, and I am glad to know the Affordable Care Act helped you finally get health insurance.
You asked how you can help. Right now, the most important thing for you to do is to make sure you, your family, and all of your friends and neighbors are covered for 2017. Anyone who needs to get covered should go to HealthCare.gov by December 15 to sign up for coverage starting January 2017.
In addition, I hope you will continue speaking out on the importance of the Affordable Care act to your life — whether that means expressing your views publicly or sharing your story with friends and neighbors. Perspectives like yours are critical to our democracy and will continue driving this conversation long after my Presidency. Engagement of people like you has and will continue to make a difference.
All the best,
Barack Obama

Letter from Thomas Errigo: “My job is dangerous and anything could happen at any time”

November 27, 2016
Mr. Thomas Joseph Errigo
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Dear Mr. President
The end of your last term is nearing and I Just wanted to take a moment to say thank you.
I am a police officer in Pennsylvania and in this state particularly the region in which I live, full time police jobs are hard to find. Because of the difficulty in finding a full time police job I do not enjoy employer provided health benefits. Thankfully the affordable care act allows me to find a decent health care plan for a reasonable price. I don’t know what I would do with out it. My job is dangerous and anything could happen at any time. Thanks to you, with my health care I know that if I was ever injured I would not be burdened with outrageous medical bills which is one less thing I have to worry about.
When I turned 18 in 2008 I was very excited to participate in that years election. I had watched many speechs and interviews and although I was not old enough at the time of the primary election I knew that I would be casting my vote in your direction for the general election. You are not only the first President I voted for, my vote for you was my first vote ever.
Over the past 8 years you have shown me that the vote I cast was very much worth while. So thank you Mr. President. Thank you for caring, thank you for looking out for the little guy, and thank you for genuinely making a positive impact personally on my life.
Sincerely,
Thomas J. Errigo

President Obama’s Response

December 9, 2016
Mr. Thomas Joseph Errigo
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Dear Thomas:
Thank you for writing me. Police officers like you represent the best of America and deserve the best from it, and I am grateful to know the Affordable Care Act helped you get covered. The reason I fought so hard to reform our health system in the first place was so people like you could access the health care you deserve, and your story drives home the importance of providing people the peace of mind that comes with having coverage.
Again, thank you for your letter and for your service as a police officer. I wish you the very best.
Sincerely,
Barack Obama

Letter from Gerald Schroeder: “I am about to face my second major cancer surgery, and, while my odds are good, I am not assured of my survival.”

December 4, 2016
Mr. Gerald Schroeder
Bay City, Michigan
Dear President Obama — As you near your time in office, I want to take a moment to thank you for your service to our country in your capacity as President. I want to commend you for your grace and wisdom and strength. You have inspired me to try to be a better human, a better citizen an hopefully a better person. I also want to thank you for your efforts to try to provide health care to more of our population.
I don’t want to live in a society that allows people to be destitute if they become ill. I was lucky enough to get my health insurance from my employer, but I don’t know what people would do if they didn’t have insurance and face a major medical problem.
I am about to face my second major cancer surgery, and, while my odds are good, I am not assured of my survival. I am, however, assured that, if God forbid the worst happens, my wife will not be burdened with unplayable medical bills. I hope that in the future, as a former President, you continue to advocate for those things that will lift up our society and our humanity. I admire how you were able to wade through the morass of politics and still maintain your dignity and the dignity of your office.
Please enjoy the remainder of your term and I wish you and your family the best of the Holiday Season and also I wish you the best in your future plans. God Bless you!

President Obama’s Response

December 9, 2016
Mr. Gerald Schroeder
Bay City, Michigan
Dear Gerald:
Thank you for writing to share your experiences with me — the stories that you and your fellow Americans share with me are what inspires me. I remain committed to working to ensure every American has the peace of mind you described in your letter — because everyone deserves the comfort of knowing that no matter what the future holds, they will have access to quality, affordable health insurance. That is why I fought so hard for the Affordable Care Act.
For the more than 150 million Americans like you who have coverage through their employer, the Affordable Care Act ensures that their plans have no lifetime or annual limits, have a limit on out-of-pocket expenses, and allow kids to stay on their parent’s plans until age 26. And thanks to the slow growth in health care costs under the Affordable Care Act, the average premium for a family with employer coverage is $3,600 lower in 2016 than it would have been if premium growth since 2010 had matched the decade before the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act has improved people’s lives. And we can’t go backward.
In the coming days, please know that you will be in my thoughts. I wish you and your wife the best.
God bless,
Barack Obama
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