I worked as an emergency physician before and after the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Before the ACA, I treated dozens of uninsured patients in the E.R. every day. They were uninsured not because they didn’t want insurance or didn’t think they needed it. They were uninsured because they couldn’t afford insurance.
I treated Sarah, a 47-year-old nurse’s aide. She was diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread throughout her body. If her cancer had been caught early, she could have been cured. Instead, she died six months later, leaving her three young children without a mother. I took care of Jesse, a 56-year-old construction supervisor. His medications cost more than his monthly rent; he skipped doses of his insulin and cut his blood pressure pills in quarters to save money. One day, his blood pressure was so high that he suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on one side. He could no longer speak, work, or take care of his family.
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