People who need constant medical care can get nervous when you talk about changes to the Affordable Care Act. The uncertainty is tough especially for cancer patients.
For Julie Negrin of Mercer Island, uncertainty is already a big part of her life. She learned at the age of 42, that she had four separate cancers.
“They took out most of my colon, ovaries, uterus, and appendix,” said Negrin of the surgery she had three years ago. “They took out lymph nodes, arteries, and ligaments; it's a lot."
With her digestive system disrupted, she is now on a restrictive diet for the foreseeable future.
“I love food and I pretty much eat the same thing every day. Chicken broth, eggs, and protein smoothies,” she said.
She takes 15 to 20 pills a day, and makes six to eight trips to the doctor each week. Under Obamacare, her coverage is affordable.
“For someone like me, a $400 premium and a $1,000 deductible is dreamy ‘cause I'm very expensive to keep alive,” she said.
Negrin worries how changes to ACA could affect affordability, or lead to gaps in coverage. Under Obamacare, insurers had to cover pre-existing conditions. The Republican plan keeps those protections but allows insurers to charge high premiums to those who let their coverage lapse.
“A lot of fear around the uncertainty. I'd say every morning I read the news and have to take the anxiety down a few notches,” she said.
She's done everything in her power to beat cancer - changed her diet, quit her job, moved in with her parents. Negrin hopes lawmakers help her survive too.
“I hope that Congress thinks about people like me," she said." I'm not just a number. I have hopes and dreams. And I'd like to live to 50.”
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 350,000 people in our state are cancer survivors.
750,000 Washingtonians get insurance through the Medicaid expansion or are receiving tax credits to pay for premiums.
It's unclear how many cancer patients get their insurance through the exchange.