Thursday, March 13, 2014

Kathleen Sebelius Speaks

I was on the phone with the Secretary of Health and Human Services this morning. 

I'm enjoying that sentence.  Really, really enjoying that sentence.  I'm a 60-something blogger with a once-famous backstory. I am a member of the BlogHer community. I completed the Survey Monkey last week and today I had the privilege of being on a conference call with a member of the President's cabinet. 

BlogHer lists empowerment as one of its goals.  I am definitely feeling the strength right now.

There were twenty of us on the line.  Secretary Sebelius spoke first, then listened as two bloggers shared their stories of life before and after the Affordable Care Act.  There was time for three or four questions and then our thirty minutes close to fame came to an end. Throughout the conversation, women were tweeting and retweeting and letting the world know that we were involved and passionate about an issue that affects everyone.

One of my tweets was picked up and retweeted many times.
Number one cause of bankruptcy? Medical bills. at . Protect yourself and your family. Disaster CAN strike!
Someone disagreed with the statistic, but the underlying fact remains.  Medical bills can stymie care, separate the patient from the treatment, and leave a family financially devastated.  Without the ACA, I would not have health insurance.  The bills from my hospitalization and rehabilitation exceeded my lifetime limits; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona would have revoked my coverage on December 31, 2011 and I would have had no recourse. 

Certainly, I would not have been able to walk two miles, as I did at Reid Park this morning with my physical therapist.  Without acupuncture and Pilates and PT and massage, I'd be on the couch, moaning.  Being able to see a physiatrist, having my expenses reimbursed, knowing that the financial piece of the puzzle did not have to be on my worry list... I am sure that my life would be far different without that.

Not all policies cover alternative treatments.  The federal Witness Protection Fund has helped, too, reinforcing my mantra that, if you're going to get shot, you should do it 10' away from a serving Congressperson.  My situation is specific and at the far end of a normal bell curve.  Still, without the ACA I wouldn't be covered for a simple annual gynecology checkup.  I couldn't see an internist for help managing my cholesterol.  And there's no way I could visit Little Cuter and Flapjack as often as I plan if I were paying full price for the medications I take.

Obamacare has put a safety net under my life and I'm a fan.  It's not perfect, though Secretary Sebelius told us that since December 1st the website is good. There's a Spanish language version of the website.  There's a 24-hour hotline (800-318-2596) with trained personnel ready to take you all the way through to enrollment. will send you to a local advisor, if you want to speak to someone in person.  All of this is important, because the deadline to enroll is March 31st, and I have it on good authority from the person in charge that there will be no extensions.

You snooze, you lose.  Don't sign up by March 31st and you'll have to wait until next year for open enrollment.  This is especially important for those 2o and 30 somethings who are masquerading as our independent and competent children.  The ACA only works if the young and the healthy are part of the pool.  Millennials and Gen-X'ers were put off by the website's intial glitches, and they don't seem to be coming back.  Ms. Sebelius is the mom of two of these people, one in graduate school and one, well, we're not quite sure what he is doing, but both of them are now insured. 

Are your children covered?  Secretary Sebelius wants you to ask them and to encourage them and to help them if need be.  Yes, your government is telling you to nag your children.  I love it when the law and I are on the same page. 

She suggests asking everyone you encounter, starting with cab drivers.  I'm not sure that I'm willing to be a publicist for a program that is in desperate need of professional guidance in that area, but I see her point.  Just as I didn't sit quietly when the cab driver was not wearing his seat belt, I should inquire and suggest that he become insured through

Perhaps. I'll consider it.  For now, I'm reveling in the aura of having my government reach out to me, using my social media power to extend its reach.  I feel connected to the women who spoke on the phone, and especially to the single mom, now insured for the first time, who left us with this:
I am so happy to pay my insurance bill every month.  I am doing this for my family, but I have to do this for myself.


  1. I wish we were hearing more stories like yours, rather than all these people complaining about how bad the ACA is. Where are all those who were lamenting their lack and need of health care before this bill was signed? Let's get those people telling their story. I'm glad you are sharing yours. The ACA needs some better press.

    1. You are welcome! YES, it needs better press,but the Obama administration seems to be lacking in smart publicists. It makes me nuts!

      The system was broken before the ACA. The ACA is not perfect, but I am tired of paying for the willfully uninsured and glad that the wanting to be insured can now find plans.



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