Sharing our healthcare story with Donald Trump

A friend sent us the invitation from the White House to share our story about Obamacare. I was glad to do so, below.

Obamacare has led to higher costs and fewer health insurance options for millions of Americans. How has it impacted you? Share your story with the President.

We are profoundly grateful to have had our own good health insurance from the private university where my wife and I teach.

Starting in 2005, it covered our daughter Sarah’s treatment for bone cancer, which produced a sudden tumor in the site of a broken right humerus. She had chemo and limb-sparing surgery. Two years later, it metastasized in the lungs. Lung surgery and more chemo followed. The year after that, she was diagnoses with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, one of the risks of the previous chemo she had endured. She then had a bone-marrow transplant. All of this came before her high school graduation.

Since then, apparently cancer-free, she had a terrifically successful college career and was working in New York City. Then, suddenly, she suffered a massive seizure. It turned out, she had a slow-growing brain tumor — again, probably due to the earlier chemo.

There is great longevity in our families, and Sarah lived the healthiest lifestyle you could have.

There is no way that what she has endured is her “fault.” [added aside: It could happen to the most healthy person, such as those who gripe about having to buy health insurance that meets minimal federal standards.]

Sarah is currently helping support the arts and culture of people in the coalfields of Kentucky, overwhelmingly Trump voters. She is planning to go to graduate school, if her seizures and the steady-state of the remaining brain tumor permit.

As I say, we are deeply grateful for the health insurance we had. But we are also deeply experienced in dealing with health-insurance issues. We are both university professors, and we have learned that the complexities of health insurance and major health treatment make it almost impossible for even the most educated Americans to navigate a system with too many so-called “choices.”

“Choice” is definitely NOT the solution to our health-insurance problems. Quite the opposite. We would like to see universal health insurance. We consider that a moral position of conscience, not a political one.

But short of that, we express our gratitude for having had good health insurance by supporting, every chance we can, the Affordable Care Act that covers some 20 million Americans who were not covered before. Sarah would be dead if she were from one of those families before the ACA came about. Sarah, now 26, is the poster child for “pre-existing condition.”

I also routinely donate platelets at the Red Cross in a city an hour away, and pray for Democrats and Republicans to get serious about fixing the problems underlying rising health costs, but doing so without dismantling Medicaid or misapplying our wonderful free-market system to an area of life (healthcare and health insurance) where we know from experience that it does not work.

Thank you, God, and thank you, national leaders for seeking good healthcare for all.

(Please stop using the word “access” when it means having to untangle an incomprehensible bunch of options marketed by competing profiteers who will be held to lower standards of coverage and care. Access. . .if you can pay for it!)

About Doug Cumming

Writer, W&L journalism professor emeritus
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