While we were encouraging folks to write letters to local newspapers, telling stories about what health care reform means for people they know, we realized each of us here knows someone who would be helped by health reform passing.  Who reminds us that words like premium subsidy, out-of-pocket maximums and minimum benefit standards actually stand for other words: friend, parent, child, colleague.

So this week we begin to share why we’ve been drinking so much office coffee this past year, and spending more time connecting with the Congressional switchboard than with our families.

The first story is from Ann Rudy, a field coordinator here.

My mom, who is 60, works as a hairdresser in Texas. Her employer does not offer insurance to employees so my mom and her husband, who is self-employed, purchased policies on the individual market.  She has worked since she was 16 and has always been healthy.  Like many without an affordable insurance option, she rolled the dice when she purchased a high-deductible plan.  Unfortunately, she lost.
Several months later, my mother fell. By the end of the day, she was in pain and was having trouble moving one of her legs.  She thought she could ‘walk it off,’ but eventually she went to the ER in pain. She had shattered her hip.  After major surgery and a hospital stay, my mom is now chipping away at her $10,000 credit card bill.

National health reform could prevent this from happening to others, or to my mom again. Small businesses like my mom’s salon would get tax credits for offering insurance to their employees. And if they didn’t offer an affordable insurance option, she would be able to shop for a plan in the insurance Exchange, where companies would be required to make clear what a plan covers and how much it costs. (In Texas and other states, no such requirement exists right now.) My mom might have qualified for new subsidies to help with her premium and out-of-pocket costs. And new rules in the federal bills would set limits on out-of-pocket expenses, so someone who falls sick—or a healthy person who takes a fall—would never be asked to pay $10,000 of her medical costs from her paycheck, or on her credit card.

If you have a story to share about how health care reform matters to you, please email us at hub@communitycatalyst.org.