You wouldn’t think a condition as common as asthma would factor in to who a person votes for. It’s an unrelated factor, at least on the surface. The four-times-daily inhalers, the extra precautions a person has to take, you wouldn’t guess that that one condition would be one of the great deciding factors in who wins an election.
Four years ago, I became very ill. It was little things: colds, turning into bronchitis. Fevers that refused to break. Those little things seemed to stack, to grow and grow and continually mutate into worse things, until at age nineteen, I was waking up nightly with blue lips and blue nail beds, concerned not just for my health, but my life.
I was nineteen, and I was so sick, I could barely function. Any time a hint of a cold seemed to pop up, I was laid out for several weeks, too sick to get off the couch, let alone see a doctor. Even if I had been well enough during those bouts of bronchitis (which, thankfully, never turned into pneumonia; I got lucky in that aspect), I had no health insurance. Kicked off my father’s plan the month I turned eighteen, I had no coverage. Anything that could have helped me would have cost in the hundreds, if not the thousands, of dollars, and as a student working part-time, I was barely able to put enough gas in my car to get to and from school. I was put on a rescue inhaler by a local reduced-cost clinic and basically told to suck it up. My lungs were, and are, too damaged to function properly.
But then something happened.
Our current president, Barack Obama, passed the Affordable Health Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Because of that one law, that one package of regulations, I was able to get back onto my parent’s insurance, and the x-rays, pulmonary exams, and inhalers and steroids that keep me breathing were suddenly in my reach again. Although we’re still paying off the initial exams, I’m functioning again, and instead of paying almost $200 every thirty days, I’m paying a copay of $25 every ninety days for the fluticasone that treats the underlying inflammation of the scars in my chest.
Obamacare has literally saved my life. While at a function in Massachusetts, during a severe asthmatic episode, I knew if I went to the emergency room, I would be able to pay for my treatment. I got lucky and ended up not needing to go, but the point still remains. Instead of being afraid of the bill, I’m now more afraid of the pain from needle sticks when I have blood drawn.
My significant other, who lives in a country with industrialized healthcare, cannot believe I pay for things that save my life. She cannot believe if I want birth control, I have to pay. She is astounded that things like chest x-rays, emergency care, and lifesaving prescriptions, are things we have to worry about in one of the richest nations inthe world.
President Barack Obama will continue keeping me breathing. The Affordable Health Care Act will ensure I can get the medication that literally saves my life. My mother will be able to have a mammogram without worrying about the cost. My father will never have to worry about prostate cancer, because the exams to discover it are now covered.
So although this election is about big things - big donations, big issues, big words and big promises - it’s the small things like my asthma, my parents’ exams, my brother’s medications, that will continue to encourage me to vote for President Obama.
Thank you, Mr. President, for keeping me alive.