Affordable Care Act, healthcare, Obamacare — December 5, 2016 at 11:38 am

The father of a boy with epilepsy on the dangers of repealing Obamacare


He sees not only the risk to his young son’s health, but to the economy and the country at large.

When a healthy child starts having uncontrollable seizures out of the blue, it’s terrifying. So is the prospect of having to cope with a serious medical condition without health insurance.

For Pete and his family, his six-year-old son’s diagnosis of epilepsy is a reality they can face. There are treatments that can help him manage the condition. But the idea that he might not be able to get health insurance in the future if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed or dismantled is much tougher to contemplate.

My son’s medication regimen would cost $1,000 a month without insurance. With our insurance, it’s $75 a month. For my wife and me, it’s very comforting to know that although it’s unknown the course his epilepsy will take, if the ACA stays intact we can have a comfort level knowing he’s not going to go without coverage, lose his insurance, or have the rates increased so much we can’t afford it.

Like many people with epilepsy, Pete’s son may have to take medication his entire life. There are also a lot of doctor’s appointments and ongoing care needed to manage epilepsy — care that would get prohibitively expensive without health insurance.

Pete gets health insurance through work as does his wife, who has their two sons on her plan. But without certain patient protections within the ACA, or Obamacare, their son’s epilepsy might leave him out in the cold on coverage.

The ACA doesn’t allow discrimination based on a pre-existing condition. If that changed, my wife might not be able to change jobs because our son’s coverage would lapse and then he could be denied coverage. Or the costs could skyrocket. It’s a loss of freedom.

Pete and his wife are also grateful for the ACA’s provision that lets children stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26. He remembers a period in college when he went without coverage because no such provision existed.

“If it were left up to our son, who knows what he’d decide?” Pete says. “With his condition, he’s more susceptible to a risk of hospitalization or other events. We’re happy that’s in place for the time-being — and we’re worried about what the future is.”

Pete says there’s been a lot of stress in their house since Donald Trump was elected, because of the uncertainty about what he and Congress will do with the ACA. They’re paying close attention to the news, both as concerned parents and because they understand the broader ramifications, especially since Pete’s wife works as a nurse manager.

Hospitals are growing because they have more customers — more people are insured. They put up a lot of capital because they have a larger population to serve. But if insurance is taken away, that’s going to drop and hospitals will lose a lot of money.

It could also be economically disastrous for people who are sick or become sick. If people can’t afford insurance, they won’t take necessary medications or get preventive treatments. They won’t be able to work and might lose their jobs, and maybe their houses. Businesses that rely on others to spend money on their services might go out of business. It has an effect on the economy and drags the whole community down.

For Pete and his family, the consequences of Obamacare being repealed or dismantled are personal, yet they worry about the broader repercussions.

It’s a terrifying prospect to think about not being able to afford the medicine in the future for our son.

But there’s so much at stake that’s tied to this law. If it were just yanked away we’d see a lot of things crumble and a lot of people having to fend for themselves without many tools. A massive, wide range of impact. Not just sick and poor people, but everyone.

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