My name is Lindsey, and at 21 years old, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
I woke up one morning in terrible pain and went home to been seen by a doctor, and then another and another and another. After months of almost daily appointments, a rheumatologist was able to give me a diagnosis and start treatment. Over the past few years, my condition has improved considerably!
The Affordable Care Act was passed a few years prior to my diagnosis and because of that bill, I was able to stay on my parent’s health insurance after I turned 18. After finishing graduate school, I was able to land a job with employer provided insurance.
During the time that I was getting diagnosed, it was difficult for me to do the most simple of tasks without pain. I couldn’t imagine going back to that time. In a world where I couldn’t see my doctor, I am terrified to think of what will happen to me. I love my job and couldn’t imagine not being able to perform my duties because of my illness.
With the recent passage of the American Healthcare Act through the House, I am concerned for my future. What if I change jobs? Will they charge me so much for insurance that I can’t afford it? Will I be put on a waiting list for “high-risk sick pool” insurance?
After passing the House, the AHCA allows for an age-based tax credit instead of an income-based credit. For somebody like me in their 20s, it amounts to $2,000 per year. The assumption is that younger people are healthier and will need less coverage. That assumption is a dangerous one for people like me, and as doctors get better at recognizing the signs and symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, more young people will be diagnosed.
Community ratings for insurance help people like me afford their healthcare, allowing me to work and volunteer, which benefits my community as a whole. In my time here, I have started a project to help those experiencing homelessness and volunteer for cleanups to continue to try to make this little island a more beautiful place to live.
If you are sick, you should be able to see a doctor without the fear of medical debt so high that you lose everything. Healthcare is complicated, and we should not be rushing to take away from those that need it the most.
Lindsey is a team leader for the UKAN Healthcare team, organizer for Operation Bedroll, SCUBA diver, and lover of all things blue.
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