There are times when listening to a client’s story brings on waves of sadness. In my coaching work, it’s usually not the story’s details but what it represents that gets to me.
When my client told me that she’d taken a full time job, knowing that it could likely land her in the hospital again, I felt that wave. A few years ago, when she left full time employment for self employment, she thought that the gamble was leaving ‘secure’ employment for the insecurity of self employment. Remarkably, her health improved and that gamble seemed to pay off.
But a year later, her husband filed for divorce and she lost her health insurance. Unwilling to return to being employed for health insurance, she got health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act. It wasn’t the level of coverage she’d had but it was better than nothing. She could stay self-sufficient.
If you live with a chronic health condition, you know that health insurance is a ‘must have‘ (unless, of course, you’re independently wealthy). I’m no expert in healthcare policy. But I work and interact with people who rely heavily on the healthcare industry. In 2006, when Massachusetts passed the MA Healthcare Reform Act, I heard from chronically ill clients living in MA who used ‘the Connector’ and were frustrated by its limitations. It was far from perfect, especially if you needed a specialist that wasn’t in your network. But as one client wrote, “My children and I need this to stay alive.” She had her own business and earned what could be considered a ‘decent’ living but she knew that out of pocket healthcare costs could leave them homeless.
Over the first 10 years of coaching people living with difficult health, I frequently heard people all over the country describe their struggles and fears with inadequate health insurance. That changed in 2010, when President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) 2010 HR3590 Affordable Health Care Act. Yes, some are angry and frustrated by the costs and the limits. But most in our ‘chronically ill’ tribe prefer this option to the past.
But now this could disappear. If you depend on the ACA for your healthcare, you must know that this is in jeopardy of being dismantled. And here is where my client is floundering.
So what do you do when facing this kind of unknown? I hope you’re not expecting me to suggest a strategic approach to help navigate this uncertainty. Honestly I don’t have one.
Then why am I writing about this, making my own uncertainty obvious? Because I don’t write to offer advice. I write to name what I see and ask questions to help us all think differently about a situation. What I’m seeing is that too many are very frightened about losing healthcare. I want you to know you are not alone in this fear.
Here’s the only good news I can find on the horizon: more Americans than ever, the healthy and the not so healthy, appreciate the value in keeping healthcare accessible and affordable, for all. And they’re telling their elected officials.
So I do have a suggestion. If you’re asked why you support keeping or improving the ACA, remember my client. Since the November election, she’s been up nights worrying that she could be unable to take care of herself. She made a choice to take a job that could be harmful to her health out of fear of losing healthcare.
What kind of choice is that? Tell that to your elected officials.