While I have much to be thankful for this year, I am especially thankful for the opportunity millions of Americans have regarding access to affordable healthcare. While I have excellent health coverage now through my employer, I have experienced the uncertainty…the fear…of the unknown and unexpected.
On October 11th of this year, my 33 year old sister was diagnosed with stage 2 triple-negative breast cancer. One day prior, she received a letter from her current, bare bones, policy announcing its cancellation effective January 1, 2014. As an AccessTN member, It was not unexpected for my sister, and as you can imagine, this sent my family into panic mode, though in the backs of our minds (my dyed-in-the-wool Republican father excluded) we knew the ACA was always a hopeful possibility, even if she had never received a cancellation notice.
My mother, sister, and I anxiously awaited the day of the rollout and were not initially deterred by healthcare.gov glitches. We began the enrollment process a week into the rollout; my sister got hung up by the identification verification but continued on with the application after submitting necessary ID documents online. A week went by with no confirmations. Two weeks. Three weeks. Four weeks. Each week seemingly validating my father's disdain and cynicism. After many phone calls with varying responses and assurances, I stumbled across several diaries and posts here that suggested starting over.
It worked. With a new account and email, the application process was a breeze, though the ID verification questions almost tripped us up. It's amazing how much you forget about aspects of your past that carry much weight in the here and now. Within an hour, my sister had platinum coverage AND dental, which she did not have before, all for $100 less a month than her current plan. Elation. Jubilation. Relief. Even my father was excited and cheered out loud when the premium payment went through. Since then, I have shared this experience with anyone I think can benefit---posting on Facebook, Twitter, letters to the editor of local papers, including The Tennessean, and discussions with coworkers and family members. …and so has my father. My Faux News junkie, liberal-hating father, who excitedly showed me the new insurance paperwork my sister received in the mail this week, is sharing our great news and the steps we took to secure healthcare for my sister.
The relief is indescribable. My sister begins chemotherapy next week, and while the near future will be rough for her, she now has peace knowing she'll get the best medical care possible. I hope others continue to encourage those who are stuck in glitchy limbo in the application process and those who might need to start their own applications.