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Friday, June 19, 2015

Father’s Day: ACA Coverage Gave Megan More Time with Dad

Jenna Temkin

Story Bank Associate

For 25 years, Megan’s dad, Steve, devoted his career to helping others. He worked at a nonprofit for people with disabilities in Beatrice, Nebraska. This work offered life lessons and wisdom he passed down to his daughter. 

“He taught me early on in life to love everyone and give them a chance, no matter what they look like, where they came from, or what their life may be like,” Megan said. 

In April 2014, Steve lost the job he loved. The following year, he was diagnosed with cancer, and the tables turned; this time, Steve was the one who needed help.

Megan is grateful that the Affordable Care Act helped her dad get quality health insurance when he was let go from work. At the time, he suffered from severe diabetes and neuropathy. He couldn’t afford his expensive diabetic supplies without health coverage.

When Megan’s dad enrolled in health insurance, he received a $628.31 subsidy—meaning he only had to pay $44.69 a month. 

After he got his marketplace health insurance, Megan said her family “felt this great sense of relief and hope. It took such a burden off of us.”

Steve would not have been able to afford medical care without ACA coverage

Steve’s health insurance became even more critical when, less than a year after enrolling in health insurance, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer for the second time. Megan said her dad received the best health care for an affordable price. In addition to covering his diabetes medication, the insurance paid for Steve’s first round of chemotherapy and an exploratory surgery. Most importantly, it covered a major, seven-hour procedure that removed part of his bladder, prostate, and intestine. 

“This insurance allowed him to get the surgery that would have saved his life,” Megan said.

Unfortunately, Steve’s excellent medical care could only do so much. On March 20, 2015, soon after Steve’s major surgery, he passed away from a blood clot. 

Megan was devastated. “My dad is my hero and my best friend,” she said. 

But Megan is grateful for the extra year his health insurance allowed her to spend cheering on the University of Nebraska football team and watching the high school state basketball tournament with her dad. One of Megan’s last memories with Steve was listening to the local high school’s basketball game together in his hospital room.

“This insurance saved my dad’s life for that year. We would have never had that last year together without it,” she said. 

Premium tax credit gave Steve more time to spend with his family

Megan said having that final year with her dad wouldn’t have been possible without his premium subsidy. Megan’s mom is retired, so money was tight after Steve lost his job. Without the subsidy, Megan’s dad would have been forced to go uninsured and untreated.

Like Megan’s dad, the health of millions of Americans would be in jeopardy if they lost their subsidies. By the end of the month, the Supreme Court will announce its ruling in King v. Burwell, a case that could strip Americans of their premium tax credits and force many into the ranks of the uninsured. Megan hopes the outcome of the case doesn’t force families to choose between going bankrupt and taking care of sick loved ones.

“This isn’t a handout,” she said. “Everyone deserves health care.”

Megan doesn’t know how she and her family would have managed to pay full-price for her dad’s care. Megan’s family recently received a hospital bill and found out that her dad’s surgery would have cost $150,000 out-of-pocket without insurance. 

“That bill would have killed my family,” Megan said.  

Above all else, Megan is thankful that her dad’s coverage allowed him to pass away peacefully.

“He died surrounded by the people who loved him, getting amazing care. He wasn’t just another number, and he died without pain. I am forever grateful for that,” she said. 

This story is part of the Families USA Story Bank—an effort to give a voice to the millions of health care consumers who have been affected by the Affordable Care Act. For more stories like Megan’s, visit MyCoverageStory.org

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