Affordable Care Act, healthcare, Obamacare — December 21, 2016 at 12:43 pm

‘We would have been screwed without Obamacare’ says father of son with rare tumor


Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, John’s 22-year-old son remained covered under his insurance, just when they needed it most.

It wasn’t your typical nosebleed.

When John came home from his job as a union tradesman one day in August, his son had a “gusher” of a nosebleed, he says. John immediately saw his son needed to be in the emergency room.

In the ER, they were able to stop the bleeding and sent him to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist near their home near Chicago. It was then that they discovered it was much more than a nosebleed, John says.

When the ENT pulled out the packing in my son’s nose, it was like Niagara Falls of blood. The doctor admitted him to the hospital right then, ordered X-rays and a CT scan, and came by that night to inform us my son had a tumor.

Fortunately, it wasn’t a cancerous tumor — but it was a rare tumor that forms from blood vessels. John says the doctor told them he hadn’t seen this kind of tumor in more than 10 years, and sent them to the top specialist in the area for this type of tumor. That doctor referred them to a super-specialist in Pittsburgh, who said it was the second biggest tumor of its kind he’d ever seen.

“The doctor in Pittsburgh told me it wasn’t long ago that people with this kind of tumor came to the ER and bled out,” John says, which means they bled to death.

In September, a team of surgeons in Pittsburgh removed the tumor. There were follow-ups every two weeks with a specialist closer to their home, and for the next year there will be monthly check-ups to watch for any return of the tumor.

“So far, everything is great,” John says. “He’s happy, he’s healthy and feeling good.”

John doesn’t know what they would have done if his son hadn’t been covered under the insurance he gets through his union. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, children can stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26, which is why John’s 22-year-old son has insurance while he’s making decisions about his career path, a time in life when many young people have jobs that don’t offer insurance.

This provision was a lifesaver. I’m sure the county hospital where we went to the ER does a great job with gunshots and wounds — they’re a great place and they treat the uninsured — but it’s doubtful they could handle something like my son’s tumor.

We would have been screwed without the ACA. I wouldn’t have any idea how I could have paid for my son’s treatment. It’s inconceivable. It’s more money than I’d probably make in a few years, and I make a good living.

John points out that although his insurance premiums have been rising for years, they’ve been increasing more slowly since Obamacare was implemented. So he can’t fathom why President-elect Trump and Congressional Republicans want to take healthcare coverage away from anyone — particularly those with pre-existing conditions.

It’s heartless to turn those people away. To talk about immediately repealing it, it’s just talk for the ignorant.

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[Image credit: Michael J, via Flickr]

  • Every time I read these stories I have one question. Who did you vote for?

  • judyms9

    It’s still interesting that if pollsters ask people if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Obamacare the number of negative responses is high, but when asked about the Affordable Care Act, the negative responses go down.

  • John K

    For the record. We are from the Chicago suburbs. The local specialist was an ENT at Loyola Medical Center. He had done hundreds of these surgeries. He sent us to Pittsburgh, where he was trained. No small town stuff here. Great doctors, and I can’t thank everyone involved enough.

  • Deborah Leigh

    So happy John’s son is okay. The absolute scariest part of this story is the beginning because I believe without health insurance, most people would have skipped the ER and tried to “stop the bleeding” at home with their head tilted back, hand towels to the nose, etc. It may have later become obvious the ER was necessary, but they may have lost some critical time at home, debating whether to go because they didn’t have insurance. An ER visit can decimate a family’s household budget. With insurance, the copay is reasonable.

    Final point: my son is 22 and was diagnosed with a neurobiological disorder at the age of 6. It does not interfere with his IQ, ability to relate, or functioning as an adult. It’s thoroughly invisible but requires extremely expensive meds to manage. I watch him rounding the corner on finishing college and going to his part-time job, which offers no insurance, and he is SO RELAXED about his medical situation because he’s still on his dad’s insurance. We would have to break the bank to pay for meds if he weren’t insured because he must have them. Just thinking about how miserable he would be, trying to figure it out and worrying about our budgets breaks my heart. So relieved he has (for now) more time. Meanwhile, when he finally gets his own insurance, (for now) they can’t penalize him for his preexisting condition. I don’t understand why any decent human being would want to remove this kind of safety and peace of mind from anyone’s life. I don’t get it.