AHCA Stories: The Cost of Meds is the Cost of Living

Q:

Let’s establish some background. What’s your name, where are you from, and what do you do? Tell me a little about yourself and your family.

 

Stephen:

I’m Stephen, originally from NY and currently living in NC, and I work for IBM as a tape librarian. 29 years old, parents are in CA helping my brother raise his daughter, and sister also lives in NC with her boyfriend.

 

Q:

Thank you. You are concerned about the American Health Care Act. Mind giving us a brief rundown of why?

 

Stephen:

It’s an awful bit of legislation that is A) not thought out at all to the point where an upsetting amount of the Republicans who voted in favor of it admitted to not reading it/knowing what it entails, B) exists solely to kill the ACA rather than try and fix the aspects of it that don’t exactly work well, C) will rob millions of healthcare all to put more money in the pockets of the old white men who want to swing the axe, and D) is claimed to vastly lower premiums and costs despite all the evidence to the contrary.

 

Q:

And how will this bill affect you and those close to you if it is made into law?

 

Stephen:

For starters, I have had gallbladder surgery due to gallstones five years ago. I don’t require any medication for it nor have had complications, but you never know what might crop up. I was also diagnosed with GAD(General Anxiety Disorder) a year later. I have made peace with it so I don’t need my medication for anxiety very often outside of really nerve-wracking moments such as planes and boats (I greatly dislike moments where I’m outside of control of whatever’s going on, so having my safety in someone else’s hands causes it to crop up, plus lack of gallbladder makes motion sickness more common, leading to even more anxiety). And in a month I will be beginning HRT as I recently discovered that I am nonbinary, so not only could the AHCA severely screw me over during my transition but if it gets passed prior to June 23rd the cost of the bloodwork alone to start could skyrocket.

Outside of myself, my mom had a sort of facial cancer and requires a special kind of soap that her doctor prescribes her, my friend Mark has been reliant upon his inhaler for most of his life and is self-employed, and my friend Greg is severely allergic to lactose products to the point where he could be hospitalized if he eats something wrong.

And, of course, those monsters would claim that pregnancy is a pre-existing condition, which means they could find ways of messing with my mom in more ways, not to mention my sister-in-law, aunts, and grandmother.

 

Q:

What is the nature of your current insurance? Is it employer provided, personally purchased, or do you get it via Medicaid?

 

Stephen:

Employer provided, BCBS. It’s not great; when the first vote for the AHCA was approaching, I went and got my anxiety medications (busperone for day-to-day as needed, lorazepam for planes/boats) refilled in case they managed to pass it, and it cost $140 to fill them. A few weeks later, it was $160 to go to urgent care since I had water trapped in my ear, and had to get medication to prevent an ear infection.

 

Q:

What are the premiums on your insurance? 

 

Stephen:

I’m not exactly sure, to be honest. I know I have the basic plan and my deductible is $5000.

 

Q:

You mentioned your anxiety medication. How often do you need to get refills?

 

Stephen:

Not very often. I get 30 busperone and 10 lorazepam per refill; the lorazepam is really strong stuff that can get people addicted to it so it’s heavily regulated, and I use the busperone so infrequently that I don’t need much. Maybe once a year?

 

Q:

You mentioned your concern for your mother and your friends. Do you have any knowledge on their current insurance situation?

 

Stephen:

Not exactly. I know my mom continued the insurance she got from the school district she retired from, but am unsure as to what sort of coverage my friends have.

 

Q:

Would you feel as if you could comfortably leave your current job or switch to a new one if the AHCA were to pass?

 

Stephen:

Probably not, to be honest. My current insurance may suck, but who knows how much worse another employer’s coverage may provide, or if I might get sick during the period of time between insurances. I’d be really screwed in the latter scenario.

 

Q:

Moving to the future, what would your preferences be in regards to government involvement in healthcare?

 

Stephen:

We need single payer and a greater focus on actually lowering the costs of coverage. With people like Trump in power, we’re cutting into healthcare and education to bolster an already over-inflated military. It’s these cuts that cause situations like this to occur, as we have more and more uninformed and ailing demographics who are willing to buy into people like The Orange Authoritarian when he says he’ll make it all better.

Maybe try staffing these agencies with people who actually know the subjects and not who will grovel before a president, guys.

 

Q:

Who is your representative in the House?

 

Stephen:

They’re Butterfield, Foxx, Pittenger, and Meadows.

 

Q:

Have you tried to contact the Representative of your district before or after this?

 

Stephen:

I started recently via ResistBot, but did call up my Rep about DeVos prior to her confirmation.

 

Q:

Do you feel your Representative has properly represented you thus far?

 

Stephen:

Not at all.

 

Q:

Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) has suggested that people who lead “good lives” should pay less for insurance. What is your opinion on this statement?

 

Stephen:

That might as well be saying that people who are born rich should pay less taxes; it’s a greedy “screw you, got mine” stance that ignores the less fortunate.

 

Q:

Before we conclude, is there anything you would like to say?

 

Stephen:

The next few months could greatly change our nation for better or worse. We need to continue to slam Congress and the Senate with all the reasons why none of Trump’s antics nor the choices by the GOP are normal nor okay. If they get their way, progress will revert back decades to their benefit and our detriment.

Don’t let them win.

 

Q:

Thank you for your time Stephen! I hope your situation and stories help people understand how this affects people.

 

Stephen:

No problem, thanks for presenting me with an outlet to express my concerns.

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