I was one of the lucky ones.
I'll be honest that I didn't know much about health insurance until after college when I started working full-time. Before that I was on my parent's insurance plans through their work and all I knew was that if I got sick or needed to see a doctor, I could. I knew we had a small deductible and I knew for the most part, everything would be taken care of for me.
When I graduated from college in 2009, I got a full-time job right away that offered me health insurance - and for that I couldn't be more grateful. In February 2010, I woke up in extreme pain and ended up having to go to the emergency room for some tests and eventually surgery to have a large kidney stone removed.
A few weeks later, I got the bills in the mail for the procedure and my jaw literally hit the floor. The first column I saw was what the cost would have been without insurance - and it was well north of $20,000. The second column was what the adjusted cost was with my insurance - a much more reasonable expense.
All of this was, of course, before President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010.
Why was I one of the lucky ones? Back in 2009 and early 2010, right around the time I graduated from college, I had quite a few friends who couldn't find full-time work right away and who, as a result, were dropped from their parents' health insurance plans. I remember one friend who suffered a minor medical issue and had to choose between seeking care and paying out of pocket or hoping things would just magically get better. With thousands in college debt, they couldn't afford to go even deeper in the hole.
That's just one of the reasons I'm so thankful for the Affordable Care Act, signed into law six years ago, today.
Under the Affordable Care Act, most young adults who can't get coverage through their jobs can stay on their parents' plans until age 26 -- a change that has already allowed 6.1 million young adults to get health coverage and have given their families peace of mind. No longer do they have to choose between medical care or not. This is a tremendous step forward that we should all be celebrating.
The Affordable Care Act also expands young adults' affordable options for health insurance and gives hard-working families the security they need and important new benefits. If you are a young adult and are in a new insurance plan, you can receive recommended preventive services, like flu shots, HIV and cancer screenings, contraceptive counseling and FDA-approved birth control, for free.
The Affordable Care Act went further though and tackled even more problems that were affecting young Americans as they tried to get coverage. It is no longer legal to charge women more than men, and these "pre-existing conditions" are no longer grounds to deny coverage, or to charge people differently. In fact, you can't deny coverage based on any pre-existing conditions now, including things such as asthma and high blood pressure.
The law helped young women even more. Women now have access to various preventative services they need with no out-of-pocket cost to them. These preventative services include domestic violence counseling, STI testing, mammograms, and annual well-woman visits. This is crucial because more than half of women have avoided or delayed preventative care due to cost, especially younger women.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, young Americans are now able to access the care they need to plan their futures and manage their health.
I know that I was one of the lucky ones back in 2010, before the Affordable Care Act was signed by the President.
What I'm most thankful for now on the sixth anniversary of the signing of this significant piece of legislation, is that other young people don't have to worry about "being a lucky one" too. Now young Americans can have peace of mind to seek the medical attention and care they need to live a long, healthy and successful life.