My Daughter Was Lucky

Photo of doctors performing surgery

She was one day old when the doctors walked over to me, alone at the hospital, to say my daughter was born with complex medical conditions. I took a deep breath as the doctors described her heart defects as well as her vertebrae and rib deformities. My daughter, like 130 million other Americans has pre-existing conditions. My concern is to help my child.

She was lucky. Her surgeries were successful, her restrictions bearable, and I had health insurance. However, she was born with pre-existing conditions, something that would impact her ability to get affordable healthcare for the rest of her life.

At the age of 18, she went on to college, graduated and started her career. But, my daughter was still on my insurance. Because of the Affordable Care Act and the protections it offers young adults, 24,000 Iowans are able to remain on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26.

Five years ago she found employment in another state working at a doctor’s clinic, however, that clinic chooses not to offer health insurance. I was shocked! Really, a health clinic that didn’t provide health insurance for their employees?

At this time, she had to have one more surgery on her heart. How would she pay for this? What would we have done? Thankfully because of the age provision in the ACA, she was still covered by my insurance. At the age of 24, she could not be kicked off my insurance and because her employer didn’t offer coverage, she was still able to get the care she needed under my plan. I can’t imagine how she would have gone through surgeries without the Affordable Care Act!

This week my daughter turned 26. We all know that is the magic number for staying on your parents’ insurance. Now, she is on her own. Two months ago, her goal was to find a new job that included the benefit of health insurance. Because she had pre-existing conditions and because she knew she would need medical care, my daughter had to find a job that offered health insurance. Like many Americans, she had to choose a job based on benefits. Thankfully, she found a job.

As a parent, I want to protect my children. I want my children to be healthy and happy and work in careers they love. I want to know that no matter where she works, or no matter her age, my daughter will have the healthcare she needs to live a long and happy life. Without the ACA, my daughter would have struggled to meet her insurance needs when she turned 18. Imagine the fear.

My daughter told me, “I would have gone broke and needed to take out a loan or died from needing or getting my second surgery. My condition has affected me in not being a normal young person. Example: I don’t save for a European trip or something fun so that I have a large cushion of savings. I have enough in my savings that I could actually pay off my student loan with, but instead, I keep it for if things if they go bad. I choose a career in healthcare not because I’m extremely passionate about it, but it’s something that I can rely on having health benefits. I feel as though I could never take off a month or more for a trip (like all the young people I know who travel) with fear that I would be fired and lose health benefits. Having money for me isn’t about luxury but safety!”

My family believes in the need for the ACA. Without its protections, our daughter may not have received the life-saving surgery she needed. We also believe that all Americans deserve that protection.

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