the caged bird sings.

written, designed, and edited by Bee Butler

On healthcare, the ACA, and putting a face to the fight.

Bee ButlerComment

A lot of people have been talking about the repealing of Obamacare or the ACA (and yes, they ARE the same thing, so if you're gung-ho about chopping Obamacare but receive your insurance through the ACA, you are in for a WORLD of hurt), and the meaning of measures like the preexisting condition clause, so I have a story to tell you, because I am one of the people that clause protects.


Hi. My name is Bee, and I'm a 26-year-old woman living in the San Diego area. I have a job, a car payment, a family, a best friend, and I pay my taxes. I voted in the last election. I donate what little money I am able to towards charities and people who need it more than I do. I am not a selfish person, by most standards, and I would not ask for something I would not be willing to give myself, were I able.


In 2001, at age 11, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. In 2008, I was diagnosed with PTSD related to trauma and abuse. In 2016, I was diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and vasovagal syncope stemming from stress. I was not born with any deformities or health problems. Every single thing that is wrong with me came from things that happened TO me. The diagnoses above are considered "preexisting conditions", and Republicans in the Senate have voted to make it so that I can never be insured again.


There are two options, outside of private insurance, for people like me, should this pass. The first is Medicaid, which is available only to those who fall below the poverty line (currently, EVEN WITH MY JOB, I fall below that line). That would be great, except 1) this is taking care away from people who are more poor than I am and need it more, 2) Those same Republicans voted to gut Medicaid, so there is not going to be much money allocated for it, and 3) Medicaid does not cover one of my heart medications. That medication is the one I need the most, because it lowers my heart rate from it's abnormal, POTS-related resting rate of 160 to something less deadly. So, I have a second option. It is called COBRA, and it is the health insurance offered to those who have applied and been rejected from all other health insurance options available to them due to things like preexisting conditions. COBRA, for me, would cost more than $3,500 a month, which is more than I MAKE in a month, and that would not cover the cost of medications (which are incredibly expensive) copays for doctor visits (which are also incredibly expensive) and does not go towards my deductible (which costs as much as a year at a private college).


In this situation, with the preexisting condition clause removed from my healthcare choices, I have less than a year to live. It could be less than a week, or a month, or even a day, because I am at risk for a heart attack AT ALL TIMES when I am not on my medication. On top of that, I am unable to meet the out-of-pocket costs for ER visits, so if I needed to be taken to the ER by an ambulance for a heart attack and was, in fact, revived and allowed to live, it would bankrupt me. And I would die homeless and alone, because zero dollars means zero food, shelter, AND zero medication, which was my problem in the first place.


It is very unfortunate that I am in the position I am in. I did not vote for the people who made this disgusting, life-destroying decision, and I have never voted for them or anyone like them in my life. I would gladly give half my paycheck to make sure my neighbors, family, friends, or even enemies were able to get healthcare. I would gladly pay a higher premium if I was able to do so, and I will be eventually, since a raise is in my future. I cannot understand why anyone would want to take away the opportunity for anyone else to get medical care that they need to live.


It breaks my heart (both figuratively and literally) to be in this place right now. Going into this year, I knew that my healthcare options were going to change, and I have been afraid. Now, it seems like it's just going to be a waiting game. If you disagree with what is happening and can see, just a little, from my story, that this measure will kill normal everyday people like me, please call your state legislators. Do not write or tweet or email them. Those things are easy to ignore. Blow up their phone lines and leave messages. They cannot get away from that. Make sure they know that you do not want them to remove this measure from the healthcare bill, even if the ACA is repealed.


I want to live. I don't understand why these people would so quickly kill me to save a few bucks.