The Affordable Care Act helped a young woman with an uncommon heart condition get the diagnosis and treatment that saved her life.
It has been a long, tough road for Jae Stewart. At 33 years old, she’s already had multiple heart attacks and a stroke, was misdiagnosed with epilepsy and was so sidelined by escalating health issues that she was about to apply for disability a few months ago, despite loving her work as an occupational therapist. But thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, she was able to continue seeking medical care so she could finally get the diagnosis and treatment she needed.
Today, Jae is back at work full time and thriving as she prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving with her wife of four months.
In tears, Jae told me how grateful she is.
If the ACA wasn’t put into effect, I would not be sitting her right now. There was literally no insurance company that would even give me a quote, let alone offer me coverage. There is no greater success than what I’ve got going on right now in my life. It’s emotional because I am 100% certain that I would not be here today without the ACA.
I first told Jae’s story back in January 2015, before she knew the root cause of her heart problems. It’s worth reading that piece to fully understand the challenges Jae faced getting insurance — and the care she needed — before Obamacare, because insurance companies were allowed to use pre-existing conditions like heart conditions as grounds for denying coverage. Even a hospital, where there’s an expectation that everyone will be given treatment, discharged her right after her stroke because she didn’t have insurance.
When I spoke to Jae last year, she had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, but the doctors weren’t sure why or when it started. About six months later, Jae began experiencing dizziness, nausea and balance issues, and visited multiple specialists before finally getting diagnosed after her blood pressure and heart rate plummeted to dangerously low levels.
As it turns out, Jae has a condition called sick sinus syndrome. This heart rhythm disorder means the heart’s natural pacemaker doesn’t work the way it should, and is treated by implanting a pacemaker to resolve that. Having a pacemaker implanted is relatively simple compared to a procedure like open-heart surgery, and since getting her pacemaker and a period of recovery, Jae’s health has significantly improved, as before-and-after photos clearly demonstrates.
Like millions covered under the ACA, Jae is worried that President-elect Trump and Congress may repeal or dismantle the ACA, particularly the protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
“The fact that insurance companies could sit there and dictate your life is inhumane,” she says. “Everyone should have access to the healthcare they deserve — especially as tax-paying citizens.”
But for now, Jae is taking the time to be thankful.
I woke up today and I felt so good. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to just get out of bed, make a cup of coffee, pet the dog and take a shower. Those are such simple things most people take for granted, but I didn’t have the energy to do them because I’d been so sick. Someday, I’d like to shake President Obama’s hand to thank him for literally saving my life.
Do you have a story about how Obamacare has helped you? Drop me a line HERE if you’d like to be considered for a future post. And remember: Open enrollment for 2017 insurance continues through January 31, 2017. Get covered today at HealthCare.gov.
[Photos courtesy of Jae Stewart.]