In no small part thanks to the ACA, I am finally getting my life back on track. Four years ago, in the summer after my 30th birthday, I was in a devastating highway car accident. I was newly self-employed and had made the choice to pay the fee with my taxes to opt out of health insurance for my first year. It seemed like the right decision up until the moment it was too late. The list of injuries I sustained was overwhelming, but my brain injury, crushed leg, ribs and arm were nothing compared to the obstacles waiting for me at home as an uninsured person without coordinated care. Getting from there to now required a lot of will, research, labyrinthine websites and a heaping dose of frustration but it was all worth it. The Affordable Care Act saved my life.
It’s almost too painful to think about how different things would have been for me after my stay in the rehab center of the hospital if I had been able to follow up regularly with a doctor who could have better prepared myself and my family for my new disabilities and what they meant. I’m originally from Michigan but because I was living in Virginia, a state that declined the ACA Medicaid expansion, I wasn’t eligible for Medicaid or premium tax credits for two more years until I began receiving disability. Once finally eligible, I experienced a lot of frustration and really struggled to navigate the healthcare marketplace. I contacted my local representative for help understanding the website and application process. By the end of it, I had better insurance than I’d ever had working as an administrative assistant.
After three agonizing years I was ready to get back to the doctor to get the surgery I needed to end the constant pain and suffering I was living in and to see a psychologist to try to understand my brain injury and personality changes. All things that I had desperately needed for years but had to put off because of lack of healthcare. The difference in my quality of life now that I have these things is profound. I quit smoking to prepare for surgery. I am able to enjoy hobbies and activities I thought would never again be possible like archery, hiking and dancing. I’ve learned to control my temper and account for struggles with focus and memory and have even started working again, part-time. I hope to transition back to full-time work and off disability by next summer.
The years between my car accident and getting set up with my surgeon were some of the darkest and most hopeless times in my life. I couldn’t work, lived in constant pain and wasn’t able to contribute in a meaningful way to my own existence. Receiving healthcare through the Affordable Care Act completely changed that. I am once again a spunky, peppy, productive member of society and firm believer that affordable, quality healthcare shouldn’t be a luxury but a basic human right. It wasn’t until I had to survive without healthcare while I vitally needed it that I understood it as an essential part in my quality of life. I even sent President Barack Obama a thank you letter while he was still in office. I am grateful that the ACA helped me in such a significant way and I am thankful that it has been available to others like me who would have otherwise had to remain uninsured.
By Amanda Green
To register for healthcare through the Affordable Care Act, visit www.healthcare.gov.