An Anthemless Hoosier

My husband and I work seven days a week, often until late at night, because we had a conversation before our son was born. We decided to split childcare between the two of us during the first year, and experience what other civilized nations value. Our son brings us deep joy, and I do not regret this decision. However, I do regret my resigned acceptance of the state of healthcare in the United States.

On Wednesday morning, my husband and I touched base to juggle work schedules for the following week. For him, shoots around the city, and for me, research and a presentation at an academic conference. Our one-year-old son babbled in the background, proud of his progress in walking the entire length of our small ranch home and opening every drawer in his path.

At 1:09pm on June 21st, my husband forwarded me the e-mail informing us that Anthem decided to discontinue many ACA plans in 2018 in Indiana.

“Unfortunately, uncertainty in the health insurance market does not provide the clarity and confidence we need to offer affordable coverage to our members in 2018.”

As I read I felt my pulse quicken and my face redden. Against my will, I started crying.

“Anthem is committed to affordable health care coverage and we’re truly sorry we can’t continue offering these plans.”

I receive health insurance through my university as a research assistant, but my husband and son do not. We purchase through the marketplace and chose Anthem to maintain continuity with a pediatrician I love. I thought about the 46,000 individuals who received this e-mail, and my stomach turned at the inevitable rate hikes and fewer choices looming around the corner. This, combined with the release of the proposed Senate plan, leave many Americans in a state of limbo.

Although we can shop around the market over the next six months, the withdrawal and the proposed plan from the GOP send significant signals, filled with uncertainty.

Who are these 46,000 Hoosiers?

I imagine some of these individuals are receiving chemotherapy right now, and would prefer to focus on fighting for their life rather than fighting for affordable health insurance.

Maybe some are pregnant and would love to prepare their nursery rather than haggle over the languishing plans on the market.

And perhaps others are caretakers of ill relatives, already exhausted from the lack of social support our society offers to the sick.

Finally, I’m sure some are entrepreneurs, like my husband, who work day-in and day-out to try to make a better life and build something from scratch — the “American dream.” For small business owners, every volatility in the market must be absorbed and flexibility and tolerance for risk is key. His dream is to hire full-time employees and grow his business in Indianapolis, and we will steadfastly work toward that goal. However, it continues to feel like our efforts go unsupported through current policy, or lack of coherent policy.

At this point, I don’t care what side of the aisle is to blame. I am a proud middle class American with two flags in my garden. My family and I work hard and try to support local causes. We want to be good citizens, and expect the social contract to be upheld.

I am also a Hoosier who desires what is best for our state and for the country. I am a firm believer that if we are a United States that wants to claim greatness, we should commit to making equitable access to healthcare a cornerstone.

To all elected officials and insurance companies I say — we are not pawns; we are not data points; and we are not losses you can afford to cut.