Written by Cindy Axne, Iowa View Contributor
It’s 3 a.m. and I’m staring at the ceiling in a cold sweat. My mind is consumed with worry and fear. Instead of sleeping, I’m trying to figure out how my husband and I will afford health insurance for our family next year.
Our family is one of thousands of Iowa families who secure health insurance on the Obamacare exchange Donald Trump is desperately trying to break.
In previous years, we could choose between different insurance providers and plans on the exchange. But this year, Trump’s antics have caused Aetna and Wellmark to walk away, leaving only one provider that is gouging us. For 2018, our family of four is left to “choose” between one bronze plan costing $2,283 a month, one silver plan costing $2,697 a month and one gold plan costing $3,000 a month. Thankfully, because my husband and I are small business owners, we discovered we have access to an alternative policy option, but it still costs a whopping 42% more than what we currently pay for health insurance.
I wake up again, 3:42 am. The panic continues but it’s by no means lost on me the ways in which my family is blessed. My husband and I work hard. We own our home. Our children have never worried about where their next meal will come from. The reality, though, is no one is safe from the damage Washington politicians are doing to our health care system.
Now it’s 4:30 a.m., and running through my mind (along with sticker shock and anger) are all of the catastrophic situations my family could find ourselves in should one of us get sick or be in an accident.
Instead of Republicans and Trump trying to tear down our health care system, we need Congress to make it better. That should start immediately with a real public option that allows Americans a true choice — why shouldn’t we be able to choose Medicare or Medicaid if we’re getting gouged by private insurers or they’re walking away from our state?
I look one last time, it’s 5 a.m. I’ve given up on sleeping for the night. I get out of bed and I start my day as I always do, by running through my campaign schedule for the day. I start early, knowing that beating David Young puts us one step closer to a world where no parent has to spend their nights like I do now.
Thirteen years ago, back when my second child was born, I could not get health insurance in the private market to cover my pregnancy and delivery. The bills were stacking up. It was supposed to be the most joyous time in our lives — instead, my husband and I had to resort to selling our personal belongings on eBay to avoid bankruptcy.
When President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act, it felt like we as a nation were saying “never again.” It wasn’t perfect, and Congress left out common-sense things like a public option. But America was finally taking real, concrete steps to fulfill the promise that health care is a right and no American should be denied it or be forced to go without due to cost.
President Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Congressman David Young have turned that upside down. They are intent on finding new ways to chip away and undermine the promise of affordable, accessible care — and the non-millionaire Iowa families like mine and yours are paying the price. I’m no politician and never really thought I’d run for office, but this outrageous attack on Iowa families and children forced me to do something. I’m running for Congress to stop and reverse the damage.
Cindy Axne is a fifth-generation Iowan, small business owner, parent, and community activist. She is running for Congress in Iowa’s Third District.Des Moines Register