My husband self-diagnosed his testicular cancer. Yep. He got on Google and did a search for symptoms and everything.
This was 2010 and he, just like millions of other Americans, did not have affordable health insurance coverage. He was in his mid-20s, a college student working toward a double Bachelor's degree and had just been granted an internship with one of the Big Four public accounting firms. To put it plainly, a cancer diagnosis was not a part of his five-year plan.
When he realized that something might be wrong with him, he also realized that there was little he could do about it in terms of seeking medical treatment. Seeing a doctor, receiving a formal diagnosis and proceeding with treatment and surgical protocols would leave him in a financial black hole that could take him a lifetime (however long that might be for him) to dig his way out of. So, like many of us, he turned to the internet to confirm his suspicions, and lived in fear for the following month as he sought to purchase an affordable individual health insurance plan.
My husband was lucky enough that his cancer hadn't spread by the time he was finally able to see a doctor. He was lucky enough not to have had his cancer classified as a pre-existing condition by his insurance company. He was lucky enough to be able to afford a medical insurance plan on his own that helped save him from an incredible financial deficit before his career had even begun. His luck, however, isn't representative of the other millions of Americans who find themselves in need of health care coverage but are unable to obtain affordable coverage.
There is much debate surrounding the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare), its implementation, its policies, and how millions of Americans will actually benefit from the new law. No matter what side of the debate you fall on, it is important to look at what Obamacare could mean for people like my husband. For young adults like my husband, Obamacare means that their pre-existing cancer diagnoses cannot exclude them from obtaining affordable health care coverage. For young adults with cancer, Obamacare means that they have choices about what their health care coverage looks like and they can get information about those choices via the ever-accessible internet on the Health Insurance Marketplace. For cancer patients like my husband, Obamacare may mean the difference between a life-saving surgery and a very real, though unnecessary, threat of death.
Whether you support Obamacare or not, the issue of access to affordable health care for everyone is an important one. If Obamacare isn't the way you think our country should go about offering that right now, you're certainly entitled to your opinion. The fact is, though, that the Affordable Care Act is now law, and an active one. It's the best shot young adults who cannot otherwise obtain affordable health care coverage have to protect themselves from a cancer diagnosis. Cancer sucks, but maybe now with Obamacare and the benefits that it does bring to many young adults in this country (like access to preventative care screenings and affordable diagnostic tests), our fear of it doesn't have to have the hold on us that it did before. And anything that provides that opportunity to those who have not had it before is a good thing in my mind.
To read more about Karen and her experience with cancer, visit her personal blogs here, here, and here.