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Healthcare Debate: Abby’s Take on Living with a Preexisting Condition

I do not like to generalize and put a group of people in a box, because I feel like that is a dangerous way to view the world.  However, lately I’ve found myself doing this with the group looking at healthcare.  I feel like all the people voting for a new healthcare bill that does not cover preexisting conditions must NOT be affected by one.  I say this, because if you or a loved one DID have a preexisting condition, would you be able to look them in the eye and say, “Sorry, we’ve decided not to help you today.”  Could you in good conscious do that?  Where is your empathy?


I Am A Preexisting Condition

Well, guess what?!?  #iamapreexistingcondition and I wanted to help those voting to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act understand what this means for people with preexisting conditions.  I wanted to attempt to put some empathy back into society.  I have to assume that you would not vote for a bill that does NOT cover preexisting conditions if you could put yourself in another person’s shoes for a minute.


A look at life without health insurance

So, what exactly would it mean for me personally if I did not have health insurance?


Well, for starters, I would not be able to afford my daily medication to prevent seizures.  Every day, I have to take eight pills to stay seizure free.  And, I can even confirm for you that I need all eight, because I recently tried to decrease the dosage and ended up having a break through grand mal seizure.  It’s medicine that I absolutely need.

Loss of Job

If I did not have access to my medication to stop the seizures, I would be unable to hold a steady job.  With health insurance and the appropriate amount of medication, I have a fantastic job and am a very successful member of society.  If I was having seizures, there is no way that I could work.  I would be forced to resign due to consistent absences and cognitive deficiencies caused by the seizures.

Loss of Independence

I would probably end up back living with my parents, because I would need constant care.  When I do have a grand mal seizure, I am unable to care for myself for 24-48 hours, so there is a very good chance I’d end up living at home with my parents… keep in mind, one of them would need to also quit their jobs to care for me… or I would be in an assisted living facility.

Threat of sudden death

And, finally, in the absolute worst case scenario, I could die from sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP).  This is a fact.  Without health insurance and access to the care that I need, I could die from a seizure.  I want to be completely honest with you, SUDEP chances are low, but the chances of having a seizure without adequate healthcare are 100 percent.  


Think about your loved ones

I’m hoping this gives anybody who wants to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with a bill that does not cover preexisting conditions some insight to what life would be like for a person with a preexisting condition like epilepsy.  Please, put yourself in my shoes for a minute.  Or, stop and think about what if somebody you loved had a preexisting condition?   My hope is that you would change your mind.

Oh, and by the way, one in every 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point in their lives.  You, too, could be a preexisting condition at some point. #justsayin

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Contributing Writer

Abby Gustus Alford was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 12 after multiple grand mal seizures over six-mos. She has a BA from Purdue and her Master’s from Northwestern.

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