Doing Everything Right but Winding up in Bankruptcy Because of Medical Expenses

Written by Guest Blogger, Bobbie Walton, a member of the Genesee County Democratic Party, political activist, & progressive.

As a parent, I admired my son and his wife when they used good judgment before they decided to have a child. They were both employed as teachers, they had bought a nice house on a little lake, they had healthcare insurance through their jobs. They were doing everything right. But the reality of the risks of childbirth hit them hard and they eventually became bankrupt because of a pre-existing condition of their newborn daughter. She was born very early, struggled to survive and had chronic asthma due to underdeveloped lungs.

Frequent treatments, stays in hospitals, medications, time away from employment by my daughter-in-law piled more and more debt on them. And, they worked hard to make everything work out. They did everything right. In fact, I had no knowledge of the size of their struggle because I did not live nearby and they were keeping their fears to themselves.

When they told me they had filed for bankruptcy, I was knocked for a loop. Now, they had no credit, their medical expenses were impacted by the size of the costs for treatment for Shai, and they were barely afloat. I joined them in worry about the future and their ability to recover. I did what I could to help, but my help was limited. And, the threat of more debt was always there.

Many families have gone through this struggle. No matter what they do “right” they find themselves in a daily battle to meet the needs of children with conditions our insurance industry calls “pre-existing.” Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law by President Obama, many families sank into debt and bankruptcy. This must not happen again.

As I reflect on the way my son’s family and others have been helped by the ACA, I want to tell people what happened so we prevent it happening again. Our family was able to recover from this life-changing blow, but until the ACA, the stress and economic hardship was always there. Worry was always there.

The ACA made my grand-daughter’s health much better.  She is now able to receive the care she needs, without forcing her family to sink into debt. She can make and keep regular appointments with her doctor, not rely on the emergency room. She is able to thrive in spite of her health challenges.

I spoke with my son about my granddaughter’s current healthcare. He admitted he and his wife are very concerned about the impact to them and families like theirs if the ACA is repealed. I share his concern. If we allow the Republican plans to deprive us of affordable healthcare for all, our children will suffer. Our families will suffer. We must fight for better healthcare for all. We must protect our children and grandchildren. We must fix the ACA, not allow it to be repealed.


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