It was a late spring evening in the holy city of Jerusalem. I was strong, despite my weakened body from muscular dystrophy, and proud, in spite of others’ misplaced pity. The following morning, however, I awoke in what felt like a foreign body. The breeze, which so gently brushed upon my cheeks the night before, struck the right side of my face like electric bolts of shocking stabbing pain. I reached for my face in horror, but the tortured skin fiercely rejected my hand’s touch with the sensation of a scalding, buzzing iron and a sharpened saw, cutting into my jaw.
Enveloped in fear and torture, I retreated into a cocoon of despair and depression. Weeks and months of my life passed by, but the condition, called trigeminal neuralgia, (also known as “the suicide disease” due to the high rate of suicide in patients) only worsened. During the long hours of dreadful pain caused by daily, attacks, I took a plethora of medications and had a craniotomy in an attempt to rid myself of the pain. But, with each failed attempt, I feared that trigeminal neuralgia would soon take my life.
Being an American citizen since birth, I knew that my only hope of receiving superior healthcare was to return to my home country. There was but one major barrier – I had no health insurance in the states and hadn’t for several years. Because I now had a few pre-existing conditions, my only hope for returning to the states was to find a job with health benefits. My next barrier – America was suffering from the worst recession in history since the great depression, and the unemployment rate was at an all time high.
Finally, after several months, I was offered a job in my profession as a litigation attorney in New York City. And, so, I returned to the land of the free and the home of the brave. After only a few months of pushing my body through horrific levels of pain, while also trying cases and taking all-day depositions, my body finally collapsed and failed to thrive. My internal organs began shutting down, and the pain was unbearable.
Within only a short period of time, I was forced to go on disability leave and receive COBRA health insurance benefits. Every month, my premiums were approximately $600. Additionally, because I had to move in with my family in Charlotte, NC, every medical provider I saw and every hospitalization I had was out of network and cost me, cumulatively, around a quarter of a million dollars. So much for the land of the free.
Last year, after a four month stent in the hospital, followed by several additional hospitalizations, altogether totaling six months, I finally was able to open the grandiose amount of medical bills and explanation of benefits I received during that time. With each explanation of benefits I opened, the insurance company informed me that none of the services were covered, a direct contradiction to the agreed upon policy. I was brave enough to fight for my life during those six months. However, I lived in a country where, no matter how brave a person is, if ill, their spirit could never overcome the mounding medical bills I had or prevent them from succumbing to bankruptcy. So much for the home of the brave.
The moment Obamacare was open for enrollment, I rushed to the healthcare.gov North Carolina exchange website. Thousands upon thousands of Americans were eager to finally get health insurance, or, in my case, insurance with excellent coverage and benefits. Due to the high demand and traffic on the website, it took me several weeks to enroll in an insurance policy. But, once I did, my premiums were a third less expensive than my previous insurance, and I had superior coverage to any plan I had ever held in my life.
Last week, only six weeks into being insured by an Obamacare plan, I went to my local pharmacy to fill one of the 26 medications I am prescribed. When my prescription was ready, I rummaged through my purse for my credit card. However, she handed me the bag, wished me a great day and returned to her business, at no point requesting payment. Bewildered, I looked down at the receipt and was shocked. The receipt read, “Your insurance saved you $308.89. Your responsibility is $0.” I had already met my minuscule $500 deductible and $1,500 out-of-pocket expenses. Now, with every visit to the pharmacy, lab or radiology department I visit, my co-insurance is NOTHING!
Unlike before, when my monthly disability checks went straight to paying medical bills, I can now use it for other life necessities, like food and shelter. My health might be diminishing and struggling to repair itself. But, as a result of Obamacare, my bank account is no longer diminishing, and I no longer have financial struggles in seeing medical providers. Thanks to Obamacare, America feels one step closer to legitimately being the land of the free and home of the brave.