Hidden Costs

No matter what side of the political fence you find yourself on, one thing is certain: there’s political talk in the air. In our house, we listen to NPR in the morning as we get ready for school and work, and we talk about politics at dinner. Our kids go to an excellent public school and hear about politics on CNN 10 and through their weekly Scholastic Readers. Their classes even held mock elections this past November.

Our kids have been asking a lot of questions about politics. They want to know what a bill is, how to become president, and who makes the laws. They want to know what laws will affect us and their friends.

Because our son has type 1 diabetes, we’ve been following the repeal and replace ACA discussion closely. The ACA isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty clear that the ACA has provided access to healthcare for people who have been living without adequate coverage.

We are lucky enough to have private health insurance, but pre-existing conditions, lifetime maximums, and the ability for our son to stay on our insurance until he’s 26 are important issues for us, so we’ve been writing and calling our representatives to tell them about our story and encourage them to protect access to healthcare for all. Henry and his sister wanted to help, so they wrote a post card.

Explaining complicated issues that our country can’t agree on to a child is tricky, because the parent needs to explain the issue fairly and clearly, illustrating something complex in a way the child will understand. To most kids, the issue is pretty simple: sick people need medicine, so they should get the medicine. How do you talk about profits, risk-pools, or poverty begetting poverty?

Like I said, we’re lucky to have the insurance we do. In 2016, I decided to quietly keep track of the money we spent caring for diabetes, but I stopped counting when we crossed over $2,000 in May. I didn’t tell anyone about the total. I stopped because the figure made me feel fortunate and guilty at the same time. For many families with type 1 diabetes $2,000 may be a monthly or bi-monthly cost. Without the ACA, these costs would be higher.

A few days ago, Henry brought his papa $35 dollars, which he’d been saving for a really cool Lego set, and said, “Here papa, take this. I know health care is expensive.” Pretty simple: when someone needs something, you give it to them.

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