Submitted by karoli. Originally posted at Crooks & Liars.
In the summer of 2009, our college-age son suddenly became ill. At first we thought it was just a case of the flu, but it went on for weeks, and came with rapid weight loss. He’s not really a towering giant to begin with and always had difficulty keeping weight on, but he lost nearly 40 pounds in six weeks. I had been laid off from my job in December, 2008 and our COBRA payments were $1700 per month for our family. My husband was self-employed and we were unable to get any insurance from any insurer anywhere. It was then that our COBRA administrator notified us that our coverage was canceled, claiming they’d received my payment one day late.
There we were with no insurance, a very sick son, and little in the way of resources to help him.
After draining a chunk of my 401k for doctor bills, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. It’s a horrible disease with genetic causes. There is no lifestyle change he made that “brought it on himself.” It’s autoimmune and genetic. Worse yet, the medications for ulcerative colitis caused him to become diabetic. While it’s likely that he may have already had unknown glucose tolerance issues, the medications exacerbated it to the point where he was forced to inject insulin to keep his glucose levels in check. He was nineteen years old, a musician majoring in jazz studies with hopes to move on to a career in music education and performance once he finished school, wrestling with life-threatening chronic conditions.
Musicians are self-employed as a general rule. His medications were $600 per month, plus test strips and syringes for the insulin. And no hope for insurance.
That was 2009. Since January of 2010, the ulcerative colitis has been in remission, he’s regained his lost weight and managed to wean off the colitis medications and with it, the insulin injections. Also, my spouse had gotten a job with health insurance that would at least cover catastrophic illness with an attached health savings account.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, we were able to keep our son on our policy and are grateful that we’ll be able to through 2014, when he will be able to get his own insurance. But it doesn’t end there.
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