I started fighting for the ACA in 2009, when I was actually running my dad’s small businesses. We had been searching for insurance for years, and preexisting conditions were the biggest stumbling block. The failed system that was in place made it unaffordable for us to provide health insurance for our employees. The policies we were shown also denied health benefits for several of our employees due to pre-existing medical conditions.
Even with plans that charged very high rates (and this was close to 10 years ago)—$1,100 for a family and $700 for an individual—they planned to exclude any coverage for specific health issues and employees. My brother, who was an employee at the time, has high blood pressure, and any coverage for that would have been excluded. An employee who was stocky, but probably in better health that anyone else at the firm, would have been denied any coverage at all, since he did not fit within the insurance company’s healthy height/weight categories. And our employee with a genetic condition that required his esophagus to be regularly stretched would almost certainly have been excluded from coverage.
Knowing that most of our employees had no health insurance in place, and had no way of paying for it on their own, was a huge concern for us. We knew that an illness or an accident could put our employees in a situation where they had to choose between getting the medical care that they need, and paying their rent/mortgage, putting food on the table or keeping the heating on during cold Iowa winters. Those aren’t choices anyone should have to make.
After passage of the ACA, we were able to put a plan place for our employees that did not exclude their preexisting conditions. When I opened Popcorn Heaven in 2014, I was grateful to have an affordable health insurance option for my employees.
This issue is now personal for me as well. One year ago I was diagnosed with blood clots in my legs. Regular check-up’s have helped ensure this potentially life-threatening condition is kept in check. I shudder to think what would happen if we went back to the days when the care you need the most is the hardest to get covered by insurance companies.
To go back to where we started from doesn’t make any sense. Our Members of Congress, and especially Representative Rod Blum, need to start making some smart decisions, and undermining access to lifesaving health care to give trillions of dollars in tax cuts to their wealthy donors is NOT one. It is putting us into a tailspin.