Letter to the Editor: Alive due to pre-existing condition insurance

To the Editor:

Just days after the upcoming election, lawyers working for the White House are scheduled to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) should be struck down in its entirety. This means no more coverage for pre-existing conditions, and children under the age of 26 will not be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance. For decades now Republicans have said they have “a health care plan,” but none has been seen.

The White House is doing all it possibly can to eliminate each step the previous president achieved for our nation over eight years; and Iowa’s incumbent Senator has taken “dark money” and proven to be literally owned by “Big Pharma,” while the opposing candidate for this important Senate position is advocating to have Medicare negotiate for lower drug costs. A huge difference!

I’d like to provide one example of how critically important coverage of pre-existing conditions under the ACA really is. This is not just personal; one-third of Americans currently depend on the ACA, which makes coverage of pre-existing conditions possible. How many middle-aged people do you know who do not have a pre-existing condition? Most likely extremely few, if any at all. Without the ACA, the cost of staying alive would likely be beyond reach for millions of men, women and children in solid, hard-working middle and lower income families.

Two years ago I had to have critical medical help.  Immediately, I understood that having insurance covering surgeries, medical supplies and pre-existing conditions, is a life or death issue!

The two types of insulin I require every day cost $2,582 for a 90-day supply. With my health insurance, I pay $387. To digest food, I take a medicine costing $8,373 for a 90-day supply.  With health insurance I pay $350. The needles needed for insulin cost $196.  With insurance I pay $29. The Affordable Care Act also meant that I received gold-standard treatment at the world famous Mayo Clinic. Benefits like mine are needed more often than most people realize. Benefits similar to these should be available to everyone.

We all face a horrible health trifecta. First, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (increasing in 33 states as I type), which experts believe is likely to last another year, or longer. Second, as we heard in his own words, the head of state said in January “COVID-19 is horrible, and it is coming to the U.S. quickly,” but then betrayed all of us by not alerting our capable and resilient nation. Thus, angry, ego-driven incompetence created a self-inflicted economic crisis which continues. Third, the annual flu season is almost here, and our heroic nurses and doctors who haven’t yet been severely sickened or killed by the virus, now have few open beds and minimal extra equipment.

The U.S., with every medical advantage known to mankind, has had 20% of all worldwide COVID-19 deaths, with but four percent of the world’s population.  Pandemic experts (like Allamakee’s own Michael Osterholm) warn that a scary amount of added death and suffering is yet to come. So without the ACA, good luck finding quality, reasonably priced coverage of pre-existing conditions in some new way. Nations that actually have health care systems emphasized the wearing of masks and reduced per capita deaths much more quickly and effectively than the U.S. did.

It is beyond cruel to kill the existing Affordable Care Act just when it is needed most. But it could happen!  Think, then take action. An enormous number of lives depend on your vote!

Ric Zarwell


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