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VOICES

In 14 Days, I Will Lose My Health Insurance

The author discusses his illness, and how America's health insurance system has affected his ability to access the care he needs.

CREDIT: Flickr user Presidencia de la Republica Mexicana.

Note: The views expressed below do not necessarily represent those of Generation Progress.

Today is March 16, 2016. In exactly 14 days—two weeks—I will lose my health insurance. I suffer from a life threatening chronic health condition. If I lose my health care, it could mean losing my life.

When President Obama designed the Affordable Care Act in 2009, it was drafted to give health insurance to young, healthy people who could not otherwise afford the high premiums that insurance companies were charging. The idea of the exchange was to give this age group options for different types of plans to suit their needs. President Obama also extended the age to 26 so that young people in school or out of work could stay on their parents health insurance.

However, I am an exception to every one of these rules. In the scenario President Obama has set out to bring healthcare to everyone, I fall through the cracks.

I am 21 years old, so I am exactly who president Obama designed his extension for. However, last year my legal guardians retired and we are now on COBRA. COBRA is a law that allows insurance companies to extend healthcare to those who quit or lost their job for up to 18 months after their last day. COBRA itself has allowed me access to vital healthcare for the last 18 months, but now that it is expiring, my parents have insurance through Medicare, but I have nothing.

Well what about the exchanges? Good question. Though the exchanges were a great idea, they are designed for people who are healthy, and so their coverage is minimal. In addition, New York State, where I reside, does not offer any PPO plans on their marketplace. A PPO stands for Preferred Provider Organization. This kind of insurance plan allows you to see any doctor, in or out of network. The plans on the NYS exchange are HMOs or Health Maintenance Organizations, which only allow you to see a provider in network and to see a specialist you must go through an assigned primary care physician (PCP). As someone with a complex health condition, I already have many existing doctors, and most of them are not “in network” especially ones I see who are out of state. If I go on an HMO plan, I would have to find new doctors in-network who treat my condition and who understand my specific situation.

What about Medicaid? You’re a non-working college student right? Well yes, but I am an exception to this rule as well. Though I do not work, I have a significant income though my late parents who left me things such as IRAs and Pensions. This money adds up to enough that I am just barely ineligible for Medicaid.

All this adds up to one thing. In order to serve the young, disabled population we need single payer care that will provide everyone access to quality healthcare that tailors to specific conditions regardless of employment status or income. We can’t let people like me fall through the cracks and continue to suffer or even die because of lack of quality healthcare. A single payer system isn’t socialism, it is something that almost every developed country, except the US, has and works for them. A single payer system is better for us, it’s better for patients, and it’s better for doctors. Insurance companies don’t deserve to make endless loopholes to get out of serving the patients who need healthcare the most. They don’t deserve to continue to deny life-saving treatments to people who are on their last hope. They don’t continue to shut down hospitals and produce less doctors because they are taking all the money for themselves. Single payer healthcare could save the healthcare system as we know it, and it could save me.

I don’t know what I am going to do about my own situation, but I do know that I would never have been here in the first place had I been in a single payer system.

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