Right now, many American women are in a panic because of the provision in the hastily-passed AHCA (aka Trumpcare, the GOP Obamacare repeal bill) that would allow states to exempt insurance companies from covering pre-existing conditions. These include many “conditions” commonly faced by moms and women, from C-sections to surviving abuse and rape.
The ACA was flawed, but its guarantee of coverage for those conditions has been its best-received, most life-saving quality.
As a result, women are taking to social media, email and more to talk about their health issues. Kveller writer Britni de la Cretaz wrote a viral tweet about the “rape is a pre-existing condition” aspect of the bill:
I just texted my husband to apologize for going to hospital after I was raped bc it could affect our insurance coverage if new bill passes.
— Britni de la Cretaz (@britnidlc) May 4, 2017
Mashable’s Aliza Weinberger’s tweet about her father is deeply affecting:
Crying at my desk because of the #AHCA vote. My dad's on kidney dialysis & can't work. He's dead if this passes the Senate. Not hyperbole.
— AlizaW (@AlizaTweets) May 4, 2017
I asked my friends on Facebook and a listserv to email me if they wanted to share their pre-existing condition story. Here are a few. From A, a friend who works for a Jewish nonprofit:
“I was 17 when I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and was hospitalized for a few days when I was 19. I also had to take a year off from college to go on medical leave because of a fucked up medication disaster. There’s also the ADHD (if I could get rid of one of my medical conditions, this would be it), PCOS (birth control is a medical necessity for me) & hypothyroidism (cue hot flashes and sleeping all day). I take four meds every day, have doctor’s appointments once a month and used to have therapy every week (only on hiatus because I got new insurance and haven’t found a new psychologist yet). I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have health insurance. Slide into a deep pit of misery, sickness, extreme discomfort, self-loathing and financial despair, to start.
I turned 26 in November and am so grateful to the ACA for letting me have coverage for so long. I barely scraped by financially working retail for 2.5 years after graduating college.”
From K, a friend who is headed to grad school next year, a description of her family:
“Mom: Multiple Sclerosis (Monthly injections, cost $1200 without insurance I believe. MRIs at least every 6 months, cost about $1,000 even WITH insurance). Mom takes antidepressants to help with sleep and menopause; has taken them before after friend died from cancer. Doesn’t have an official diagnosis but I feel like this could come up in insurance transactions?
Dad: Sleep apnea, requires CPAP mask
Sister 1: IBS (medication). OCD, GAD, ADD. She is on several medications. ADD. She takes Adderall.
Sister 2: Celiac’s Disease, Vitiligo, Eczema (annual, I think, check-ups to test blood levels, prescription creams for latter two)
Me: I have repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel and thoracic outlet syndrome that are chronic, but I don’t know for sure that this would affect coverage. ADD, Bipolar Disorder, PTSD. I take 3-4 medications. I have in the past been prescribed suboxone, which I’m worried might suggest I have a substance use disorder as a preexisting condition.”
From Rachel, who works in women’s health:
“Not only do I have several pre-existing conditions, but I AM a pre-existing condition since I was born female and identify as a woman. As a matter of fact, as a woman in a same sex marriage with a daughter, the premium increase based on our sex alone will impact our family dramatically. We make decent money, but may not be able to afford insurance.”
From S, another friend who works for a Jewish nonprofit:
“I will never forget the stress of growing up in a household with extensive medical bills, even though we had insurance. My mom had breast cancer when she was 33. I was in the hospital for a week when I was 7 and nearly died from an asthma attack in the middle of the night.”
From Andy, a friend and fellow mom/journalist:
“My friend Taylor was gang raped, I wrote about it for Cosmo. She posted just now that she now has a pre-existing condition but her rapists will get all the free healthcare they want in prison.
My friend Jamie’s son had a kidney transplant—she sent me a note that she is crying in her office. She lives in Iowa and former Governor Branstad screwed the exchange already and driven out competition.
I have MS – so I can’t wait until I get to crowdsource funds for my very first wheelchair that will come as a result of my untreated brain/spinal cord-munching disease. I also had a C-section so I am fucked there, too. Oh, and got the shit kicked out of me my by my ex-husband. Screwed again.
My friend Kristin, out of literally nowhere had her first (and probably only seizure in January) she wasn’t given a diagnosis of epilepsy because that was ruled out. She called me today and is just fucking disgusted. She actually has every pre-existing condition in book – she had a c-section, has Crohn’s, Allergies, you name it.
My friend Erin’s daughter has a horrific genetic disease (only 5 kids in the US have it). It is terminal. Most kids die by the time they are 9 years old. Emily is going to be 14 in July. She is on borrowed time. From the time the kid was 4 yrs old – until now – she has been either hospitalized, on home dialysis, treated for cancer, had a kidney transplant – you name it. I asked Erin a few months ago if the GOP repealed Obamacare what would happen with Emily. Fortunately Emily get Medicaid. But this latest news has her shaken. Come to think of it, kids with rare genetic disorders born after this thing if it passes are all at huge risk.
I just can’t.”
Neither can I.
On Twitter, more testimonials are coming in under the #Iamapreexistingcondition hashtag:
My daughter was born 3 months early -if she had a lifetime limit on her benefits, we would have hit it before she left the NICU. #VoteNoAHCA
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) May 4, 2017
I'm at risk of being cut off halfway to cure. I can't put into words how I feel right now.https://t.co/SJ9w8Ko5z7
— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) May 4, 2017
ADHD, anxiety, major depressive disorder, acid reflux, woman, & person. #IAmAPreexistingCondition
— Anna Breslaw (@annabreslaw) May 4, 2017
domestic abuse survivor
— Wagatwe Wanjuki (@wagatwe) May 4, 2017
I survived breast cancer once, currently fighting it again at 36, I fear 4 my future, but mostly 4 others w/worse #IAmAPreexistingCondition
— Sarah DeJarlais (@SBDJ2381) May 4, 2017
— Mary Beth Williams (@embeedub) May 5, 2017