In 2003, I married my husband and moved from Miami to work in a more rural Florida town. I was still practicing law, at the time, but was looking for employment that felt more rewarding. I thought I had found it working for a small firm which practiced ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) law.
The firm was so small, it didn’t offer health insurance. Nonetheless, I took the job offer, because my new husband (an ex-marine) had coverage through the VA, and I was healthy and could afford to buy insurance on my own….or so I thought. See, this was back when insurance companies could deny coverage for preexisting conditions. I knew that, of course. What I didn’t know was that as a recovered bulimic, I would be considered as having a preexisting condition. I thought a preexisting condition was something current and on-going like Type I diabetes. It never occurred to me that I could be denied coverage for something in the past.
I don’t remember how many applications I submitted. I know, however, that the number of rejections I received was equal to the number of applications I completed. They were all rejected because of my past treatment for bulimia.
Yes, I had a full-time position as an attorney. I was completely healthy and recovered from bulimia and willing to pay the outrageous premiums that I was quoted, but I could not get a single insurance company to write me coverage. I went two years without coverage, before I was back with an employer-sponsored plan.
On the eve of this important midterm election, I wanted to share how important it is that we not go back to the days when coverage could be denied for preexisting conditions. I now have two children with preexisting conditions that they are never going to “recover” from. One of my children has ADHD and the other is on the autism spectrum.
In fact, it was due to a conversation with my autistic child about preexisting conditions that I decided to write this blog. I’m a political junkie, and the closer an election gets the more my kids overhear political jargon. I was listening to a political rally via Twitter when I picked up my daughter from school Friday. The speaker was discussing the importance of protecting our current preexisting conditions law. My daughter asked what they were talking about, and thus, the obvious analogy was to her. So, with a lump in my throat, I looked my beautiful, highly intelligent, physically healthy daughter in the eye and broke the news to her that some would deny her the ability to purchase health insurance because she is autistic.
I always vote. I have never missed an opportunity to vote. My son was born 21 minutes before an election day. I voted early that year. My husband did not, so he left me and his newborn son in the hospital to go vote. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I don’t understand people who don’t vote, quite frankly, but if you are one, I encourage you to rethink.
I know a lot of people don’t get off on watching C-Span like I do. I know politics is as off-putting for many as it is exciting for me. But voting isn’t just for political junkies like me. Voting isn’t just for the law nerds or wing nuts.
Voting isn’t just about politics!
It’s about real people like my daughter who just needs a bit more help navigating a world that is often overwhelming for her brain. It’s about a young, professional who had an eating disorder in college, but who was healthy and trying to start her adult life.
Even if you are still unconvinced that the law should protect those of us with preexisting conditions, go vote! Even if health insurance coverage isn’t what you most care about, go vote! Even if you think your vote won’t matter, go vote.
Like I said, I have never missed an opportunity to vote, and you know what? Nothing bad has ever come from it. No, my candidates haven’t always won. I haven’t always understood those wordy amendment proposals, and I certainly don’t always know who to vote for for mosquito control. Yes, that’s a thing in Florida! But nothing bad has ever happened to me from showing up to vote.
This is no down side. Go VOTE!