Last week I sat in the East Room of the White House to witness the additional steps being taken to build upon the Affordable Care Act (ACA). President Biden signed an Executive Order to strengthen the ACA and announced a plan to fix the “family glitch,” what he referred to as a “bug” that locks millions of people out of affordable health coverage. He and former President Obama also called on the 12 remaining states that have not yet expanded their Medicaid programs to do so.
I didn’t talk to him, or shake his hand, but I made eye contact a few times with both Presidents.
They saved my life, you know.
That’s why I was invited – my story.
I should have walked up and thanked both of them. In retrospect I really should have. In the moment, it was a crowded room, they were on stage, I didn’t want to be greedy, I didn’t “need” more of the aura of their fame (or something, OK mostly I’m just shy). I was just over the moon to be present.
The moment the ACA, also called “ObamaCare,” passed in the Senate in 2009, I was at the gym. Up in a corner where walls and ceiling met, one of the TVs showed the vote.
The day the website went online three years later, I tried to sign up. I had no health insurance when the bill passed and still had none. But the website wasn’t working, as we probably all remember. But I especially remember. I went online and tried to sign up, and couldn’t. Several times through the process, it didn’t take.
I tried a few more times in subsequent weeks.
Eventually it became like so many other tasks that filter to the backburner. I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Inattentive Type. Not entirely unrelated to that, I also get depressed, and I was getting seriously depressed at the time. Life is complicated enough.
But here’s the twist in the story. Even as the website went online, I had some curious symptoms that would later turn out to be cancer.
I really should have – and would have – gone to a doctor right away, but I didn’t get insurance until April the following year, by which time I was dangerously close to incurable. Cancer had spread throughout my body, in small, mostly invisible nascent cell colonies.
I’m still here.
And it was through ObamaCare that I got the treatment that saved my life. It is also through the ACA – under Medicaid Expansion – that I access mental health treatment now.
Lyndon is a tutor and short film producer who has been developing an indie game to tell the story of a hive of paper wasps and how they influence their forest ecosystem. He lives in Virginia and writes and makes music in his spare time.