I have lived a lot of life, most of it on the go, and always an adventure. Challenging myself and pushing limits. From 25 to 35, I worked hard and lived with that sense of freedom, full of fun and exploration, believing every year would only get better and better. In that decade, I took some chances – moved to three different cities where I didn’t know anyone, and I took jobs I wasn’t sure about. I was always confident things would work out, or at least I could figure it out how to make it work.
I was lucky. Things did work, and my life in that time was wonderful. I deepened friendships and made even more great friends, completed graduate degrees, traveled the world, saw my nephews born and grow, helped elect a Senator and then a President, lived my dream of improving policies to help others, and even fell in love with the most incredible woman. I remember thinking, here I was in my mid-30s truly living the ultimate adventure, living life to the fullest every day – but also knowing the best years of my life were still in front of me. What I didn’t know during those 10 years was how uncertain my future really was, and how much control I was about to lose.
Two months after my wife said yes to being my adventure partner for life, I was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. In the same decade I spent building my life, the cancer had been growing, and silently threatening to tear it down. Right at the dawn of my future. Literally, the worst news, at the worst time. Like any good sports fan, I turned to statistics to understand the odds. Only the numbers were no help. For the stage and type of cancer I have, my chances of seeing my 40th birthday were only about 10 percent.
Fortunately I had been paying out of my paycheck for health insurance through my employer. I’d never really given the choice of buying health coverage much thought. I never thought that one day the small choice to get covered would be one of the most important things to keep me alive. Insurance helped me do two things that greatly improved my chances – it helped me get diagnosed, and it helped me begin my treatment quickly.
Technology has made treating cancer more personal, and more effective, but it is still costly. So far, it’s cost more than $1 million to treat my disease. Thanks to my health insurance, I’ve only had to pay a small fraction of that amount from my own pocket. When the unimaginable happened, insurance kept me from going bankrupt just to stay alive.
Today, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, affordable health coverage is a reality for millions more young people. In fact, with the financial assistance available through the Health Insurance Marketplaces, many 26- to 34-year-olds can get covered for less than $100 a month. That’s about what I paid through my employer, and it is less than what many people pay for a cable or cell phone bill. To say I am beyond grateful for insurance is an understatement. Insurance helps me live, and I got some control over my life back. Insurance helps me dream about the future, and it has given me a chance at living without destroying my family and me financially.
I can’t imagine what life would be like if we were looking at a future of not just dealing with ongoing treatment, more surgeries, and fighting for survival, but also having to pay down more than a million dollars' worth of medical debt. Thankfully, because of health insurance, I don’t have to. I can still have the future I imagined over a decade ago. Life is still an adventure, and you never know what could possibly happen. Insurance is an investment in your future and in yourself, and all lives are worth investing in. Get covered.
For more information on how to get covered, visit HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.
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