Here is a personal story. My wife has a friend in New York who is in her early 40s and was found to have breast cancer last year. The woman had metastatic disease, and her condition was considered grim.
This woman then was recommended by both my wife and I to go to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer. I trained there, and know it is one of the premier cancer centers in the world.
Luckily, this woman had health insurance, which her husband pays for out-of-pocket, because he runs a personal business.
Now, here is where it gets interesting. First, this woman is a huge Obama supporter. So much so, she campaigned for Obama in 2008 (she went to New Hampshire during the primaries, and stayed in a hotel there for several weeks on her own dime campaigning for the Obama effort).
I spoke to her last night, by coincidence. And her opinion was shocking. And it changed because of an Op/Ed from a cancer patient that was published in the Wall Street Journal last week.
The article was written by Edie Littlefield Sundby. Ms. Sundby is the victim of stage IV gallbladder cancer, a horrible disease that has a very poor 5 year survival rate. She had been lucky to have excellent insurance, and had been treated at premier cancer centers at the University of California; Stanford University’s Cancer Institute; and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. All three are consider top-tier cancer institutions.
However, she just found that her insurance has been cancelled because of regulations placed upon it by the Affordable Care Act. She can still get insurance, but none of the choices available to her would allow her to continue to see all of her physicians, as her old plan did.
People who have never dealt with cancer treatment would wonder, “Why not change your doctor?” However, cancer is unlike most things in medicine. A detailed therapy plan often is only available with certain institutions and doctors, and not everyone provides every therapy. Moreover, after myself working at Sloan-Kettering, I have seen how these elite institutions provide far better results with stage IV and advanced cancers than many other institutions.
Now, this brings us back to my friend, the Obama supporter. She is truly worried now. She is still going to Memorial Sloan-Kettering for treatments, and likely will have to for the rest of her life. But now, she is unsure if her insurance will be there when she needs it. She and her husband have expected to get the cancellation letter in the mail, and right now, her search of New York’s health exchange has not given her a solution that would allow her to not only see her local doctor, but to see her physicians at the Cancer Center as well.
This is the reality of the ripple effects of the Affordable Care Act. And you will continue to hear stories like this, over and over again. And Democrats will have to defend their choices, now that they have real world consequences. If the Obama Administration can convince people that they will maintain their same high level of care for a reasonable price, then all these worries go away.
Right now, Americans like my friend are not convinced.