[A guest post from the wife, AKA @BaconBaking. We hope you enjoy]
Yesterday Mr. Teej and I had the honor of playing chauffeur to my sister as she visited the White House to have a closed door meeting with Dr. Jill Biden to talk about her experience with the Affordable Care Act.
Backing up… As some of you know, my sister has lived with me since her junior year of high school. Over the last four years, sometimes she has been insured and sometimes she has not. In its most basic form, it’s important to have insurance for things like sports physicals and lady visits but especially when we both had bronchitis and I shared meds with her because she had no insurance. Or when she had four cavities because she was drinking too much pop. She does not drink pop anymore. My sister is athletic and literally played every single sport so learning on the fly that she did not have insurance in a given month during rugby season was especially troubling. Enrolling her on my plan was out because I never adopted her. Enrolling her on the high school and college plans did work, but only for “catastrophic events”. I’m not really sure how that is defined because salmonella, jammed fingers, prescriptions, and the aforementioned events listed above were apparently not catastrophic enough.
Finally this Fall a beacon of light emerged. The Affordable Care Act. Living in D.C. is crazy. It’s an understatement to say I don’t feel like I would have the opportunities in small town Washington state as I do here. I met a friend from grad school for lunch. As luck would have it, she was working to both educate folks about the Affordable Care Act and get more people signed up. By the end of the day, Shannon had applied for and was well on her way to having real, actual insurance that covers real, actual life events that happen to all of us.
I’m not going to say that it was seamless to sign her up. Healthcare.gov was working at the time. She was a late November/early December enrollee. Selecting the plan was really simple. They make it easy to compare the deductibles, and co-pays, and what is covered. The most difficult part of the process was making sure the company she chose did process her in time before her school insurance ran out. I worry a lot, but it was fine.
She’s had the insurance for three months now. It is literally half the cost of the school health care plan at her college, and is the same coverage I have at my cube job…so it covers regular doctor visits, and scripts, and anything else life throws her way.
My friend who I had lunch with said there might be a meeting at the White House to discuss people’s experiences getting signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act and asked if Shannon was interested. Shannon is an introvert. She does not like discussing her personal life, and prying information out of her requires more than a crowbar. She was not overwhelmed by this opportunity. She agreed, apprehensive to go. (She might kill us for including that photo of her in this post, but come on, that's a great pic)
Tuesday she found out the meeting she would be attending would have about 15 members of the LGBT community who had signed up for insurance and would be led by Dr. Jill Biden. She came home from college Tuesday night, nervous. We laid out her clothes. She asked if she could take shots before the meeting, which I said no to. The compromise was Thai lunch at Bangkok 54.
Teej and I picked her up at noon to go to lunch yesterday. (Yes, Teej eats Thai food.) She had what she wanted to say ready. She had a script that was $300 a month before insurance that is now only $10. Her monthly insurance costs have been cut in half. Her nerves were already getting to her and she could barely eat her drunken noodles. I made a point to play Katy Perry’s Roar “so you will always remember this moment and this song”. She was not amused.
Teej drove us into the city, taking Memorial Bridge, ensuring it was the most scenic route possible. Her hands were shaking in the front seat. We both told her we were proud of her. I literally walked her to the front gate of the White House and they took her name and in she went. I met a gentleman outside who had just waved goodbye to his husband. They had driven out from Detroit. His husband is 60 and has HIV and lost his health insurance and was insured again under the Affordable Care Act. His husband had been an outspoken advocate and attorney, so it was a natural fit from him to attend the meeting. I knew immediately my sister was in illustrious company.
When she came out of the meeting she was literally glowing and bursting with energy. She had gone in and everyone was mingling and talking about their careers as attorneys, and business people, and she was like “I’m in college”. They brought the group into the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing, where they all were supposed to run through their stories before the meeting, but Dr. Biden entered before they had a chance to even chat. Everyone jumped into their life stories centering around the need for health care insurance (a lot of different issues were shared, but to be respectful of all those that attended, not my place to tell their story). They had all driven or flown from everywhere around the country to attend this meeting. Shannon was by far the youngest person in the room, the only one in college, and she shared her story.
After the meeting, there were photo opps and Dr. Biden made a point of shaking my sister’s hand and hugging her and telling her good luck in college. My sister described her as gorgeous and so nice.
It was an amazing experience for Shannon, and one that The Teej and I were grateful we could be a part of. From nervous college kid at drop off to energized future advocate at pick up, I have to think this is an experience she will never forget (and I sense she will be an inspiration to others as well).
Thanks for letting me share.
[Teej’s one edit – I asked Shannon to sarcastically tell Jill Biden “congrats to your Delaware Blue Hens for ripping the heart out of Tribe fans everywhere”. For some reason she chose not to go that route.]