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I don’t think I can handle another health care go-round.

As I write this, the Senate is poised to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act again.

Anastasia Penchi

Anastasia Penchi

Wealthy, white male Republicans without genetic malformations of the brain that lead to hemorrhagic stroke and permanent disability are deciding the fate of my family. Isn’t it enough I cheated death already?

Health care and disability go hand-in-hand for me. After you have a stroke, it’s hard to write about one without the other.

I had a meltdown earlier this year when Republicans tried to repeal and replace Obamacare. I cut myself off the news (the real stuff, not the fake stuff) because I was getting so upset. My Democrat friends were predicting the horrors to come on Facebook; and my Republican friends were silently ignoring those posts.

So I had to cut them all off, too.

Sadly, the Democrats are closer to getting it right: My husband, as well as my 20-year-old son and my 8-year-old son, all stand to lose their health insurance. The biggest kicker? The policy my husband and eldest son will lose has a $14,000 deductible. It’s sad that I’m worried about losing that kind of policy, but I am.

When I had a stroke four years ago and became unable to work full-time any longer, we were lucky to be “low-income” enough without my salary to qualify for BadgerCare, which is Wisconsin’s version of Medicaid. My husband is self-employed, so he does not have access to a workplace policy.

Even though Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker refused to expand BadgerCare under the Affordable Care Act, the existing income limits ensured I did not have to worry about the costs of my many required doctor appointments and physical therapy sessions. There was no cap limiting how much my stroke could cost. I just went to the doctor, paid my co-pays and the bills got paid. It was a true blessing.

Then came Halloween. My youngest son screamed in agony most of the night because he had a toothache. My husband drove us to Walmart at 1 a.m. for every tooth-related medicine I could find. That helped for 10 seconds. Don’t get me wrong. I was happy for those 10 seconds — I just wanted more.

The next morning, I contacted my dentist. Even though I had lost our family’s dental insurance with my job, I had held it for 20 years and had a relationship with the people there. Also, I thought, I am educated. I know dentists usually don’t accept Medicaid patients because of low Medicaid reimbursement rates, but I have a secret plan. These people know me – I will pay cash every month until the bill is paid off.

Then the office manager tells me it is illegal for dentists to accept money from someone on Medicaid. Apparently, there is an actual state statute saying this.

The dentist ultimately accepts my son as a Medicaid patient (thanks, Coulee Family Dental) and takes the financial loss. An exposed nerve is addressed, and we are officially a “charity case.”

Crisis averted. At least until I get approved for SSDI.

After almost four years without full-time income, I finally get my SSDI hearing and am classified as permanently disabled. This should be a good thing since now I receive a monthly stipend through the Social Security system. However, this also means I qualify for Medicare since I’ve now also been labeled officially disabled for at least two years.

What happens to the health insurance for the rest of my family, I ask? No one can seem to answer that question.

As it turns out, just like *NSYNC might sing, it’s “bye, bye, bye” health insurance.

Eventually I learn my youngest will still qualify for Badgercare (at least for 2017) because the income limits are higher for minor children of people like me. My husband and oldest son got kicked off Badgercare when I received my first SSDI payment. Now they both rely on the ACA health-care exchange. (Interestingly, the rule that keeps college kids ages 26 and younger on a parent’s plan apparently does not apply when your mom is disabled and on Medicare.)

Thankfully, my husband and older son qualify for ACA subsidies, but we still pay $120 per month for a policy with a $14,000 deductible. And that’s not even the real kicker. We received a letter one month after they were officially on the plan letting us know the policy won’t be offered next year. Could this be related to the instability of the health-care market and the Republican push for repeal? No matter, as of Nov. 1, two of my family members will be back on the health-care exchange.

Assuming there is one.

Republicans say they want to take money out of Medicaid for other things. To me, that means increased income limits so my 8-year-old won’t have decent health insurance when he’s sick. He already can’t get his teeth fixed through the system without being “charity.” Why should people care if he’s healthy?

Why should people like my husband and oldest son even be able to get health insurance? If Republicans take away the ACA guarantees and subsidies, I’m betting we lose our crappy emergency policy for something worse. Maybe no insurance at all. Is medical bankruptcy our future? I know — it’s not your problem.

I support changes to the ACA; however, I prefer actual improvements that would make things better for more people, not changes that result in estimates like 32 million fewer people without health insurance.

Sorry, I have no time to finish this rant. My oldest son in college has texted me. He has flu-like symptoms and is wondering what he should do. I need to figure out a way to get him to a doctor and pay the ensuing medical bills.

At least we have an emergency medical policy on him.

For now.

Anastasia Penchi, a former La Crosse Tribune reporter, is writing a book about becoming disabled. She can be reached at callmeloislane@hotmail.com.

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(13) comments

new2Lax

As usual, you got it wrong again. As I stated numerous times, If I had been on Obama care I would have lost my plan and doctor. Every family was to get a 2500 per year benefit if Obama care was passed. It did and I didn't. Please get your facts straight. What I stated then and now are facts. You can not keep your doctor or plan and your reduction in health care costs actually went up 5500 dollars instead of receiving a 2500 dollar reduction.

oldhomey

Are you incapable of understanding the words that you yourself wrote, new2? I didn't make these up. They were cut and paste comments you made yourself. They aren't the only ones, just the ones I managed to recover. You cried in your beer constantly about how Obamacare personally became a financial hardship on you. Show me how I got it wrong, new2. I shall wait on bated breath, but I doubt I will hear from you on this string again.

oldhomey

Hmm. I guess new2 is now officially in the weeds, hiding from his lies. How are Buggs and Hey19 as companions in your little hide-out, new2? You guys spend so much time there, I hope you police the place a little to pick up the accumulating garbage that you generate. And I implore you guys, PLEASE do not try to retail that garbage on other strings as fresh goods, as you all are so prone to do.

oldhomey

Yoo Hoo! new2! Gosh, old man, I am getting hoarse yelling for you to show up here again, but I guess you're too deeply hidden in the weeds.

oldhomey

new2Lax Nov 10, 2016 4:08pm
Just wondering, what if it does happen. I see little difference when I didn't see my 2500 dollar savings in my health care premiums, I was told that's what would happen. I lost my health care plan and my doctor, to boot. We were told the economy would turn around, instead had an 8 year period where the GDP never seen 3 percent. The Labor participation rate sits lower than since the 70's along with wages. What did increase was the number of blacks on unemployment, food stamps and who now own a home. I suppose folks will act the same way.

new2Lax Jan 11, 2016 7:06pm
Read it, for what. Does not change a thing, I still will not get my 2500 dollar savings and you can't keep your old plan or your Doctor. Those were the reasons given to support it. That didn't happen, end of story. Did I figure this out all by myself? Yes.

new2Lax Nov 10, 2016 4:08pm
Just wondering, what if it does happen. I see little difference when I didn't see my 2500 dollar savings in my health care premiums, I was told that's what would happen. I lost my health care plan and my doctor, to boot. We were told the economy would turn around, instead had an 8 year period where the GDP never seen 3 percent. The Labor participation rate sits lower than since the 70's along with wages. What did increase was the number of blacks on unemployment, food stamps and who now own a home. I suppose folks will act the same way.

new2Lax

I understand completely as I retired at 62 as well, I did so at 62 because health insurance was paid for. If I had to pay for it the cost would have been the same as yours. Most retiree's wait until they are 65 and are eligible for some kind of plan like they offer at Gundersen, Mayo or Humana, United Health care at a much lower cost. You obviously knew what the costs were going to be and were okay with it at the time.
My point with Obama care is how it was sold to the American public and then the public is to live with the consequences. How can a plan overrun cost triple what the proposal, how could you ever envision being able to keep your existing plan and doctor. This proposal was to save each family 2500 dollars per year, instead the average increase was 5500 dollars per year. Over 1000 counties have one and some have no competing plans. Apparently this does not bother your assessment of Obama care in the least. The penalty imposed was sworn not to be a tax by Obama and then it is passed by the SC because it is a tax. How on earth can you sit back and say that's okay and then expect people to give it a thumbs by making a few changes. It was a total lie and they knew it. This is no way to pass legislation, it is exactly what you accuse others of doing. Don't you see that. You try to cover up the lie's by saying well now that it has failed, they deserve some kind of bail out, when they all deserve never to be heard from again.

Tim Russell

You are a special kind of stupid. No one says you have to buy your insurance from the Obamacare website you dolt. You keep talking about the increases in premiums but you completely ignore the increase in premiums that took place the previous 10 years before the ACA was passed. And you completely ignore the pervasive instruments that the Health Insurance Companies were coming up with like lifetime limits and refusing coverage for babies born with diseases based on the pre-existing conditions clause.

new2Lax

I don't recall the increases going up as much as 116% like in Arizona. From what they see, this is just the beginning. What happens when they try and get the 31 million that are currently uninsured insured. Obama care already exceeds by triple their original proposal and that's with over 1000 counties with one or no completion from insurance companies. Even at these high deductibles and premiums, they can't make it. Now tack on the 31 million. Obama care added 12 million and look at the disaster, try tripling the number and see what it looks like.

Tim Russell

The 116% is for insurance available on the govt website. As I noted previously no one says anyone has to buy this. There are other sources available numbnuts.

oldhomey

new2, you are worse than a bad rash that keeps coming back. You seem to have absolutely no shame. You come on here and lie about anything that you think will bolster your weird arguments. When you are caught in your lies, you never apologize, never acknowledge you may have misspoke. Here you are again, lying again. I am very pleased that I took the time months ago to track down your lies about how you were personally damaged by Obamacare. I thought it was fishy, so I went back and found those claims when you denied them months later. I have now saved them, and I now reproduce them again to establish what is so obvious but is proven here in black and white. new2 is a liar.

new2Lax Nov 10, 2016 4:08pm
Just wondering, what if it does happen. I see little difference when I didn't see my 2500 dollar savings in my health care premiums, I was told that's what would happen. I lost my health care plan and my doctor, to boot. We were told the economy would turn around, instead had an 8 year period where the GDP never seen 3 percent. The Labor participation rate sits lower than since the 70's along with wages. What did increase was the number of blacks on unemployment, food stamps and who now own a home. I suppose folks will act the same way.

new2Lax Jan 11, 2016 7:06pm
Read it, for what. Does not change a thing, I still will not get my 2500 dollar savings and you can't keep your old plan or your Doctor. Those were the reasons given to support it. That didn't happen, end of story. Did I figure this out all by myself? Yes.

new2Lax Nov 10, 2016 4:08pm
Just wondering, what if it does happen. I see little difference when I didn't see my 2500 dollar savings in my health care premiums, I was told that's what would happen. I lost my health care plan and my doctor, to boot. We were told the economy would turn around, instead had an 8 year period where the GDP never seen 3 percent. The Labor participation rate sits lower than since the 70's along with wages. What did increase was the number of blacks on unemployment, food stamps and who now own a home. I suppose folks will act the same way.

new2Lax

This is truly sad when your thankful for having access to 14,000 dollar deductible in your health care plan, not to mention the ridiculously high monthly premium. This is what the Obama Administration is responsible for. When this kind of plan sounds like a good deal, you have heard it all. If you can afford to pay these up front costs that increase double digits each year, you don't need insurance, you need your head examined. The insurance companies say they have dropped participating in Obama care because they couldn't survive financially, where now many counties have little or no choices. So do get these companies back in to covering Obama care plans, I can't even imagine the future increases in deductibles and premiums. Is there any wonder why younger healthier folks are willing to pay a penalty for not purchasing Obama care. The Obama Administration swore up and down the penalty was not a tax on the American people, of course until he said it was a tax in order to get it through the SC. How big and often must the lies be to be considered to be a criminal act. There still are over thirty million uninsured at a cost overrun triple the actual proposed cost. What the cost of losing your doctor and the plan you were promised could be kept is incalculable and if you throw in the loss of the 2500 dollar savings per year, your costs for say a ten year period would scare anyone.

GrandpaS

The Affordable Care Act did/does have some serious issues that need to be improved, no doubt about it. But insurance premiums have been rising by single or double digits as long as I remember. When I turned 62, before Obama care, my insurance premium went from approx. $540 to over $900 per month. It wasn't because of Obamacare, it was because I turned 62 and was diagnosed with a-fib later that same year. And the reason premiums are so high in many states is that the "young invincibles" didn't sign up, leaving the higher premiums being paid by non-millenials. And bills brought forward by this year's congress would have made insurance coverage even harder and more expensive to get. Every free country in the world has more affordable coverage than we do. Isn't there a point in that? Where among today's mule-headed legislators is the understanding of that fact? They absolutely don't get it, and we continue to get shafted for our medical care. That's not how it's supposed to work. Repair it, don't repeal it.

kingman10

well said grandpaS. Letting the insurance companies run the health care system was worse than obamacare. Legislatures across the country are dragging their feet on total re-haul of our health system to a single universal care system because people like new2 don't demand it. They just sit around and complain about Obamacare. they offer no real lasting solutions. Second is the massive amounts of money spent by the health industry on lobbyists and funding politicians friendly to their profit making schemes. Repubs just want to go back to the way things were before the ACA, that shouldn't be acceptable to anyone.

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