OPINION: Without quality insurance, I would have died at 13

Posted on 06 February 2018 by Jordan Morris

Why affordable healthcare should be available for every United States Citizen

Staff Writer

Without quality insurance, I would have died at 13When I was 13, I nearly died. The scar tissue from a previous surgery, a mesenteric cyst removal when I was six years old, gradually clogged my intestines until it formed a complete blockage. After a weekend of level 10 pain and vomiting, my parents took me to my pediatrician, who told us to go straight to Children’s Hospital. The intestinal blockage became infected and progressed to the point of sepsis while in the ER. I was wheeled away for an emergency bowel resection.

I stayed in the hospital for five days, including a stay in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. I was under the care of countless doctors and specialists, underwent procedures and received more medications than I can count. Unexpected side effects of the surgery required complex tests, procedures, medications and specialists at multiple hospitals long after I was discharged. Throughout all of this, throughout the excruciating pain and the surgery, the hospital stay and the debilitating side effects, I still see myself as one of the lucky ones. I might not be alive if my family were not fortunate enough to have access to quality health insurance.

If my family didn’t have health insurance, we probably wouldn’t have gone to the doctor, or waited to see if I would improve on my own. My symptoms mimicked that of a severe stomach flu, which is typically not fatal. I went septic the same day I went to my doctor. If my parents had waited to take me, or not taken me at all, it would have been too late to save my life.

This could have happened to anybody. It could have happened to any child, anywhere where access to medical care might be too expensive or non-existent.

Health care is a polarizing topic, as anybody who pays even the slightest attention to politics realizes. Former President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare into law, and millions of people who were previously uninsured are now insured. When President Trump campaigned, he promised to repeal and replace Obamacare and several attempts to get rid of the law and implement an alternative followed once he was inaugurated. However, millions of people were left uninsured under the proposed alternatives and people with pre-existing conditions–everything from seizures to cancer, pregnancy to organ transplants–could find their insurance premiums raised, or be denied coverage altogether.

Then there is the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. CHIP covers about one in every eight children. It provides health insurance for kids whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicare, but don’t get insurance through their employers. While it’s hard to think that anybody could advocate taking healthcare away from kids, Congress let the program expire in the fall of 2017. Soon, states will begin running out of money. Kids with serious or chronic illnesses will no longer be able to see their doctors. There are some reports that pediatric oncologists have begun giving away medication for free, because kids with cancer can’t wait for the government to act. They need medicine now.

Every other industrialized country has universal healthcare. We’re not doing ourselves a favor by jeopardizing the lives of millions of kids and adults, trying to win a game of political tug of war. We must do better.

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