If we lose our insurance, the man I love will continue to have his life stolen from him.
In early August, my husband (Kyle Gray Young, a musician, teacher, and all around amazing guy) and I lay in bed in tears, arms wrapped around each other, fighting against the incredible possibility that he had a brain tumor that would quickly rip our lives apart.
He'd heard from his neurologist that morning — a horrific, cold, reactionary man who refused to talk to his patients or the insurance people on the phone and spent the majority of his time writing awful poems about flowers in his garden and less time on his patients' cases.
To be more accurate, he'd heard from the nurse at his neurologist's office that morning, who had a very brief message: "You have a brain tumor. You need to see a neurosurgeon right away."
That was it.
By the time we got the call, he'd had two sinus surgeries, lost a substantial amount of hearing in one ear that was replaced with crippling tinnitus, had deteriorating eyesight, and was tentatively diagnosed with hemicrania continua, an incredibly rare migraine disorder.
As a "testament" to the great state of Wisconsin's Medicaid program, which we were on at the time due to low income, Kyle's initial wait to see the recommended neurologist was nine months, a long time for something urgent, but apparently the number of doctors willing to work with the Medicaid system in our county hovers between none and three-ish at any given time. Luckily, we had an income increase and got kicked off the program but since we're both business owners, we had to find our own insurance.
Enter Obamacare. We are still considered low-income (just not low enough for Medicaid by about $80), so we are able to take full advantage of the Affordable Care Act. That means our insurance is still state insurance, but we have better coverage. And thanks to premium tax credits, legitimately affordable care.
Suddenly, my husband's nine-month wait shrank to two months, and he was set up with a team of neurosurgeons and a new neurologist — the originally recommended one, not the reactionary poet — in no time at all.
We've come a long way from that first phone call. He still has all his symptoms (hearing loss, vision problems, sinus swelling, and headaches) but we now know that whatever's in his brain isn't immediately deadly within the next few months, though there's still a chance it could be cancerous.
We also now know that he probably doesn't even have the migraine disorder, which was diagnosed by his previous neurologist after just five minutes of practically non-talking. We also know that the thing attacking Kyle's brain is some sort of tumor or blood vessel malformation and that he has a lesion on his pituitary gland that isn't causing any issues (at the moment).
This is all thanks to Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act was there for us when we needed it, allowing Kyle to get all his tests and MRIs and appointments done to get us where we're at now.
But there's still a lot we don't know. We don't know if the symptoms he's experiencing are caused by the tumor or blood vessel malformation in his brain, or something else entirely. We don't know whether he'll require brain surgery now, later, or ever.
We don't know if the five prescriptions he's now taking are going to fix the symptoms, solve the problem, or make everything worse. We don't know when or how he'll get back to normal, instead of sleeping all the time and avoiding civilization because even the smallest thing, like two people talking at once, can send shockwaves of pain into his head, eyes, ears, and sinuses.
Most of all, we don't know what's going to happen in January.
If Obamacare is repealed — or mangled in whatever way the incoming government plans to dismantle it or parse it up — we will likely never know. Kyle has an MRI scheduled for January to see if things have changed, to hopefully rule out some other conditions and to see if he needs to have surgery.
Depending on what happens with the Affordable Care Act, he may not be able to have that appointment. We're still low-income, like I said; that means we can't afford any other insurance than what we've got.
Essentially, if we lose our insurance, the man I love will continue to have his life stolen from him, bit by bit, by some unseen force that both he and I know is slowly killing him. Obamacare may have its problems, but it does so much good, too. No system is perfect. But to rip people's insurance out of their grasp, possibly at a time when they need it most, is a death sentence.
I want to grow old with my husband. And I bet you want to grow old with someone, too. Think about that every time you feel like tearing someone apart because they're on or support the Affordable Care Act. So many lives depend on it. And should something horrible happen, my husband's blood is on your hands.