A friend of mine, Kathryn Rogers, posted this amazing essay up on FB. With her permission, I’ve linked it here.
If you think President Obama hasn’t done enough for the middle class, I have a story for you. Obama’s policies and programs, most notably the ARRA, the ACA, and HARP, have all helped my dual-working-parent, middle-class family ride out dual layoffs and cancer in the last 4 years. They may have saved my life, and not just my financial life.
*Layoffs* My husband and I worked for the company Harcourt for years (17 years for him, 13 years for me). It was acquired in July 2007 by Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep, which owed billions of dollars to, among others, Bain Capital (for more on that story). The company could not afford its staggering debt and laid off wave after wave of employees. Within a year, when our son was 3, my husband was laid off. I was laid off 6 months later, in December 2008. The department I used to work in had at its height about 140 people; I hear that it now has maybe 12 or so.
*Cancer* President Obama’s ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) subsidized the cost of our COBRA insurance while we built our freelance editing business. We soon transitioned to insurance “off the rack”– individual policies, which don’t have the protections that corporate group policies do. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2011, my insurer (BXBS) tried very hard to withdraw my coverage–BXBS created multiple bureaucratic hurdles, unsuccessfully investigated me for fraud, delayed approving my surgery for an aggressive, rapidly replicating cancer (we went ahead with the surgery not knowing if it would be covered), and so forth.
*Saved by the ARRA and ACA* If we had let our insurance coverage lapse after losing our jobs because of the astronomical cost of COBRA, we would have faced financial ruin (cancer is amazingly expensive) and I might not have been able to make the best choices for treatment (I had surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation and am now healthy and fit and enjoying feeling good). It’s possible the ARRA saved my life. Also, I know that without the ACA (Affordable Care Act), my insurer would have dropped my coverage when I was diagnosed (I have paid premiums my whole life, including the several months with the ARRA subsidy, and have never been uninsured). Again, President Obama’s policies protected my family and me–definitely from financial ruin, possibly from death.
*Saving Money via HARP* In the mail this last week, I received notice that we are eligible to refinance our home under HARP, via our current lender; we are doing so and will save $16K and pay off our mortgage sooner than under our previous mortgage.
*Saving Money via the ACA* We also received a refund from our insurer this month (because of the ACA’s 80/20 rule, which says that insurers must spend 80% of premiums on actual health care*) AND heard this week from our insurer that my well-woman coverage will now be covered 100%. Well-woman coverage means a lot to someone who has been through breast cancer.
So President Obama and the policies and programs in place over the last four years have done what I hope most Americans would be glad about. My husband and I have a strong small business, I am healthy and healed, and my little family is not bankrupt or crippled with debt from cancer treatment. We’re saving money on our mortgage and on our insurance, which gives us more disposable income to recirculate into the economy.
*Note that despite claims by people like Rick Perry that an unregulated market drives costs down, Texas, one of the largest states with the least regulation, has had extremely expensive premiums; under the 80/20 rule, Texas insurers are having to refund more than insurers in any other state.
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