My Pre-existing Condition

I was born with a liver disease which no one could figure out. It was discovered at age 2, and the doctors said that I’d likely require a transplant by the time I was 15. That proved to not be the case, but I still don’t have a concrete diagnosis, other than “lucky.”

When I was 25, I decided to take a chance and work for a startup, like you do out here in the Bay Area. But when I started looking for insurance, I got one rejection after the next. Because of my mysterious pre-existing condition.

Then, deep into my new job with just a few months left of COBRA coverage left, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Luckily the disease was contained, so thanks to some speedy intervention I am now considered cured.

I think all the time about how close I was to a lifetime of medical bills, and the additional pain that would have caused at a moment when my life was in danger and I should have been focusing on my health.

Before the Affordable Care Act and its elimination of “pre-existing condition” as an acceptable reason to deny coverage, I was a person in exceptional medical need who was uninsurable outside of a job or a marriage, and just a turn in the economy away from not getting the care and medicine necessary to maintain my quality of life. Hell, to maintain life at all. And I could be again.

This is not an unusual story, and there are millions of people in much more precarious circumstances at this very moment. But I’m sharing it because it is mine. The Affordable Care Act made me feel more safe in the world. The threat to repeal it without a replacement is unconscionable.

It seems like a miracle that I am still here. But we can’t hope for a miracle to make a difference for the suffering. Call your representatives and tell them to vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act without an adequate replacement. There’s so much at stake, we need to make our own luck.

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