In this exclusive opinion piece, actor Gabrielle Union issues an impassioned and very personal plea to spare the Affordable Care Act, now under attack by politicians.
I am going to do something that most people in my position don’t do often – tell you my age. I am 39 years old. I am at an age where I realize that life isn’t always fair and that unlike fairy tales, life doesn’t always have a happy ending.
Nearly two years ago, I lost a close girlfriend to cancer. Diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at 32 years old, I remember thinking this wasn’t part of the plan. We were too young to worry about getting sick. In fact, we were supposed to be invincible.
Unfortunately, when Kristen was diagnosed she was on a health care plan that would not provide the care she needed for treatment. Just for a second, try to put yourself in her shoes. You are a few years removed from your 30th birthday, you have cancer, and while working towards accepting your diagnosis, you also have to try and figure out who is going to help you in the fight of your life.
Every year millions of women just like Kristen face choices between treatment and paying their bills. The costs associated with healthy living cause many to put off screenings and other preventive care let alone the treatments that may follow a cancer diagnosis.
Now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, women in Kristen’s position can be assured that their insurance plans will cover preventive care – including breast and cervical cancer screenings – without expensive co-pays or deductibles.
Too many Americans don’t get the preventive health care they need to stay healthy because of cost. President Obama’s health insurance reform law expands access to important cancer prevention tools, saving and adding years to women’s lives, and eliminating difficult choices that women like Kristen face every year.
Meanwhile Mitt Romney and the other Republican candidates for president have committed to repealing the health care law if elected. In an effort to appeal to the extreme right wing of their party, they want to take a major step backwards on women’s health. Rather than letting women make their own health care decisions, they would rather let employers make those decisions for you.
They do not think about the countless women who are forced to decide between rent and a mammogram. They are content with the medical discrimination in our insurance system and the fact that insurance companies charge women more than men for health care.
In Kristen’s name, I am asking politicians to stop playing politics with our health. Kristen knew that women just like her are saved because of these screenings and prevention tools – it’s that simple. This isn’t about politics, it’s about saving lives and protecting women’s health.