Nearly a year ago I had a breast reduction surgery--a procedure I was only able to receive through Obamacare.
Many insurance companies do not cover breast reductions because they don't consider it to be something a woman might actually need (ask me about how women's health issues and pain are often overlooked or simply considered exaggerations). But through Obamacare, I was able to find an insurance company that covered this needed surgery, in lieu of hoping that the insurance provided by my employer (if my employer even offered insurance) would cover the procedure.
Because of Obamacare, I can stand up straight. Because of Obamacare I no longer worry about having to eventually have back surgery, a procedure much more invasive and much less successful than breast reductions. Because of Obamacare I can exercise without my lungs and ribcage being crushed by excess pinpointed weight and corset-like sports bras that leave scars from harsh gouging. Because of Obamacare my chronic back pain is diminishing and I no longer have a perpetual knot in between my shoulder blades. Because of Obamacare my quality of life has improved and my body is on its way to feeling strong instead of diminished.
Now, while it is excellent to have less pain, to have more clothing options, and to be able to wear a normal, non-corset sports bra, and despite the misery that oversized breasts can cause, my condition was not life-threatening.
Other Americans who need Obamacare do have life-threatening conditions, conditions that will become all the more risky and deadly if the Republican-controlled Congress succeeds in repealing the life-saving Affordable Care Act.
Is Obamacare perfect? No. Despite attempts to keep premiums low, for many people they are still a hefty monthly burden. Because of certain states choosing to not expand Medicaid--an expansion designed to allow people who can't afford insurance through the ACA exchange to still be covered--many Americans still don't have medical insurance. And, although millions of people have benefitted from Obamacare, the costs of healthcare are still outrageous, making being uninsured financially terrifying--even if all you need is a regular checkup.
Currently, I do not have insurance. My employer does not provide any and I do not earn enough to buy insurance through the healthcare exchange. Because I live in a state that opted to not expand Medicaid, I am virtually not allowed to have insurance. Recently, I went to my annual physical. I paid a $75 copay and was later sent a bill from the doctor's office for about $150. Even later, I was sent a bill from the lab for around $90. On top of this, I pay $30 a month for birth control pills and $4 a month for antidepressants (I am lucky the antidepressant I've been using has so far been effective and is part of a program that keeps the cost so low--other people aren't so lucky).
Without some form of birth control--the pill or IUD--I develop ovarian cysts that rupture, causing such pain the only thing that helps is morphine; hemorrhage for weeks at a time resulting in iron deficiency; or go months at a time without menstruating, a sign that the cysts and hemorrhaging will soon present themselves.
In short, I have endometriosis, a condition where the uterine lining that sloughs off during menstruation forms outside the uterus causing all sorts of problems. Because of this condition, the $30 a month is worth it, but it adds up--and not everyone can afford $30 a month. With Obamacare, birth control pills are free--but you have to be covered by insurance to benefit from this law.
My health problems are small beans compared to those of citizens with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, and the myriad other health problems that are deadly and/or chronic and life altering.
For years Republicans have been wanting to repeal Obamacare--but there's a reason they don't have a replacement. The reason is, the only system that would work looks like Obamacare. To keep healthcare affordable and premiums low, the requirement for everyone to have healthcare must exist--otherwise people would only sign up when they need to and premiums would skyrocket. This is also how people are protected from insurance companies denying them coverage because of pre-existing conditions--the mix of healthy and ill people is what keeps the premiums low.
The other options you will never see a Republican pass: A single-payer system or strict regulation of medical costs.
The incoming administration wants to revoke freedoms--like the freedom to be sick without falling into debt. Don't let their wishes come true. Call your representatives. Write letters and emails. Don't become complacent or wait for someone else to take up the charge--it's down to all of us.