Life Shouldn’t Be a Pre-existing Condition


| 1/26/2011 12:26:34 PM


Tags: The Affordable Care Act, health care, politics, New Deal 2.0, Tim Price,

This article was originally published at New Deal 2.0 

Following last night’s State of the Union address—in which President Obama spoke briefly about the debate over the new health care lawcomes this personal account from Tim Price, a Junior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, about how an unexpected medical crises—and they usually are unexpected—changed his life. Like President Obama said in his speech, the law isn’t perfect, but as Mr. Price says in this piece, “when it passed, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief for myself and countless others in my position.” 

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health-careWhen I woke up on February 20th, 2008, I had no way of knowing that the day’s events would change my life forever. I was midway through my junior year of college, a political science major swept up in the thrill of a historic presidential election and eager to get to class and discuss the latest campaign developments. After having breakfast and checking a few of my favorite blogs, I gathered my books and headed out into a cold but sunny winter morning.

The walk from the front door of my house to the bus stop wasn’t a long one, but it was made treacherous by the need to cross a busy and poorly marked service road. I stood at the corner and waited for the walk sign to change, unwilling to take any chances. Unfortunately, the driver of the large white van that ran me down wasn’t so conscientious. Halfway through the crosswalk I saw him blow the light and swerve toward me. I knew I couldn’t get out of the way in time, so I waved my arms to signal for him to stop. He didn’t.

I’ll spare you the gory details of what came next, but suffice to say I never made it to class. Broken, bruised, and burned, I spent weeks in the hospital, undergoing multiple surgeries to mend injuries that probably would have killed an older man outright. (”Do you have any medical conditions we should know about?” a doctor asked me through the haze of morphine. “You mean aside from being run over?” I groaned.) I was grateful to be alive, but I knew I had a long recovery ahead of me — one that would be measured in years rather than months — and I knew it was going to cost me. Suddenly, the health care debate playing out on TV wasn’t so abstract. If I was a “young invincible,” I’d just been struck by a Kryptonite meteor.