Ashley From California: “To insurance companies, I was more of a liability than a human being worthy of saving.”
Agonizingly aware of the cancer cells flourishing in my unprotected organs, I went to my local office of Health and Human Services and asked for help from the state. While my application was under review, I made an appointment with a melanoma specialist, fully prepared to bankrupt myself and my entire family to begin treatment.
I’m one of the lucky ones. Fortunate enough to live in California, a state that accepted federal funding for expansion of Medicaid, I qualified for Medi-Cal assistance and could access care at UCSF, one of the foremost research hospitals in the country. When the free market failed me, it was the government and the Affordable Care Act that saved me.
Almost four years later, I am still not cured of my cancer. To date, I’ve had a craniotomy and brain radiation, a small bowel resection, close to 50 immunotherapy infusions, months of targeted therapy, eight emergency room visits, more than a dozen PET/CT and brain MRIs, a colonoscopy, hundreds of blood draws and countless ultrasounds, CTs, EKGs and more, all adding up to seven figures of treatment costs. Without the ACA, I would be dead and my family would have gone bankrupt trying to save me.
My country has made a huge investment in me over the past four years, something I will never take for granted. I am forever grateful to President Obama for fighting to pass the ACA and protect it from the Republican onslaught over the years. With the life I was spared, my hope is to make a positive and impactful return on that investment. But like many young people in similar situations, and the millions who now have insurance through the ACA, the future is uncertain.
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