By all accounts, our daughter was a good teacher. Miss Tiffany loved her students, and they adored her. Every year they tested high on statewide tests. Once they even scored highest in Florida among comparable schools.
But Tiffany had a secret: She didn't feel well. She knew something was wrong but didn't know why. She began to miss class. Before long, she had exhausted her paid sick days. Finally, our daughter faced a hard reality: She needed to quit her job to deal with her health issues. This meant she would lose her health insurance.
Tiffany soon learned what many of you may already know: Private health insurance can be prohibitively expensive, beyond the reach of many. Fortunately, our daughter was now eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The premiums would be manageable. At least she would now have some protection from the staggering medical costs she would soon face.
Tiffany needed to get to the bottom of her health problems: Why did she feel sick? So holding her breath, she climbed aboard the medical merry-go-round and began to navigate the health care labyrinth. In 12 months she saw five separate specialists who kept pointing her in different directions. Finally, after countless tests and delays, Tiffany learned the chilling news: Signs of cancer had been detected — a deadly, rare form of cancer.
My wife, Vickie, and I were stunned. What parents expect to learn that their child has a life-threatening form of cancer? But thanks to Obamacare, the cancer had at least been discovered. (Without Obamacare, I doubt Tiffany would have learned she had cancer until she had passed the point of no return. She probably wouldn't have had the tests that permitted early detection.)
Tiffany underwent surgery. The cancer was located, and the malignant cells were removed. This particular cancer has a high recurrence rate and is often fatal unless detected early. Three times this past year, Tiffany and Vickie traveled to New Orleans for treatment.
So far, things look good. The cancer has not returned. She's not out of the woods yet. We really won't know for a couple of years. But the cancer has been found and treated, and Tiffany has received the care she needed.
Our daughter's medical bills have been large. She couldn't have paid for her treatment without the help of Obamacare. Yes, it's true: If push came to shove, Vickie and I would have exhausted our retirement funds to pay for our daughter's medical care. What parent would not have? Blessedly, Obamacare was there for her.
Some say Obamacare is flawed. Maybe so. All I know is it probably saved our daughter's life. This is personal to us. If Obamacare needs fixing, let's fix it or come up with something better. We just want our daughter to have a shot at living a healthy, productive life. With Obamacare, Miss Tiffany has a chance.
Thomas Churchill Dunn is a retired St. Petersburg attorney.