The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by cancer patient Edie Sundby today. Sundby suffers from stage-4 gallbladder cancer. In her piece, she writes that due to the Affordable Care Act, her health insurance policy will be cancelled on Dec. 31.
“For almost seven years I have fought and survived stage-4 gallbladder cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 2% after diagnosis,” Sundby says. “I am a determined fighter and extremely lucky. But this luck may have just run out: My affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31.”
Her plan is being canceled because her provider, United Healthcare, is pulling out of the Covered California individual policy market.
Sundby’s only options at this time are to either get a new insurance plan through the Covered California ACA health exchange or to pay 40 to 50 percent more for an insurance policy outside the exchange. Either way, she will not be able to see the medical team that has taken care of her for the past seven years. She writes that she and her broker have no clue what their best option is going forward.
Her treatment has been provided by a combination of Stanford and University of California, San Diego (UCSD) medical staffs. Under exchange policies, she would be forced to choose between either Stanford or UCSD providers.
“So if I go with a health-exchange plan, I must choose between Stanford and UCSD,” she says. “Stanford has kept me alive — but UCSD has provided emergency and local treatment support during wretched periods of this disease, and it is where my primary-care doctors are.”
Sundby closes out her post by calling out President Obama on his claim that Americans who are happy with their insurance plans would get to keep their policies.
She writes: “What happened to the president’s promise, ‘You can keep your health plan’? Or to the promise that ‘You can keep your doctor’? Thanks to the law, I have been forced to give up a world-class health plan. The exchange would force me to give up a world-class physician.”
Sundby’s dilemma is a tragic one that nobody in the world’s richest nation should find themselves in. With that said, I think it’s wise to put her ordeal in perspective. Thousands of Americans who cannot afford health insurance die from curable diseases every year. The ACA is not messing up a faultless system. For every person like Sundby who loses their old insurance plan because of the ACA, there is a multitude of dead Americans who could never afford treatment in the first place.
Health insurance in America is the result of a flawed dynamic between insurance companies and the government. Let’s not point the finger at one entity while ignoring the other.