Life with Crohn's: The New House-Approved Health Care Bill Could Strip Me of My Coverage

Last year, I went into surgery Coral Springs Medical Center, where a surgeon removed part of my lower intestine, including my ileosecal valve. This section of my intestine had become so inflamed that I could no longer digest food. The scar on my stomach is two inches long and not pretty to look at, but I’m thankful every day that it’s there. It means that I can eat without being in extreme pain anymore, that I can stand up without almost blacking out, and that I won’t throw up if I eat anything harder than cooked rice.

That being said, my scar isn’t the only physical memory of my surgery: I have a stack of medical invoices from my two, week-long stays at the hospital. Even with the private insurance provided through UCF, I’m in thousands of dollars of debt from my surgery. I also receive multiple medications, including Humira, an injectable that costs nearly $3,000 without insurance and only five dollars with it.

(image: picture of my hospital bracelet from my second stay at CMC)

However, all of that could change because of the GOP’s push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. It has already passed in the House of Representatives, if by a narrow margin: 217 to 213. Under the GOP’s proposal, states would be allowed to scale back benefits, impose limits on coverage, and would not cover preexisting conditions like Crohn’s Disease, the illness that sent me to the hospital last year. The number of uninsured people could double under the Republican plan, notably included people with lower incomes.  Though it purports to drop the tax penalty for not having health care, anyone seeking insurance after not having it for an extended period of time, would face a surcharge when trying to buy a new plan.

The detrimental effect this would have on my own life is unfathomable. I’m a financially independent college student whose already sold her soul to FedLoan and various credit card companies. I need insurance. Without the Affordable Care Act, once I leave UCF, the kickass insurance provided to me as a student vanishes into thin air, and I’m up creek without a paddle.

(image: picture of an all liquid diet for the girl with the ornery intestines)

Whether you have a preexisting condition, use preventative services, know someone with Medicare, or you’re just a broke college student who needs affordable health insurance when you graduate, you need the Affordable Care Act.

There’s still hope to block the ACA’s repeal: the bill has to pass in the senate next. You can exercise your civic rights and call your senator.

You can use the government website to find his or her contact information, and leave them a short message with their receptionist. If you’re not a fan of phone calls (because lord knows I use text as my primary form of contact), you can use this handy dandy script:

 

Hi!

My name is _________ I am a citizen of (your town/city/zipcode) calling to ask Senator ______ to block the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Thank you for your time.

 

And that’s it! It’s that simple.

I know it’s tempting to frown at the news and keep scrolling, to sigh when you hear this news on your TV and change the channel, but we need the actions of students—of people—like you, to help stop the Affordable Care Act from being taken from us.

Call your senator. Text your grandparents. Snapchat your friends. Instagram your surgical scars.

Uphold the Affordable Care Act.