Dear United States Senators,
Hi. My name is Bianca Smith. I became a United States citizen on November 14 last year. Thank you, you’re welcome. The ceremony was beautiful; I cried. My American flag sits on my desk.
The ceremony was the end of an eight-year journey. I’ve written about it here. Warning: it’s long and detailed, but so was the vetting process. What I didn’t include there is the work I do in the US. I’m a freelance marketer. Freelance means I’m self-employed and sometimes work through temp agencies. I help fill the gap for American businesses. If I’m working directly with clients I’m mainly helping small businesses and non-profits. The non-profits call me in when they need extra marketing support for a few months. They may have a team member on leave to have a baby, or have a grant covering just a specific project. The business owners are the moms and dads (and non-parents) who are just starting out. They are great at what they do, but need help telling people of their products and services. That’s where I come in. These businesses could be the next Amazon or the next Best Buy. They could end up employing thousands of Americans, but need a little help at the start. I give them that help. It doesn’t pay much, but I love what I do and I feel it really makes a difference and helps build our country.
But I have a problem. And it’s such a big problem that I may need to leave my new country over it. My other option is to stop helping these small businesses and non-profits and accept a job with a large company. Imagine if Apple didn’t have marketing help at the start. We wouldn’t have as much choice in phones, technology advancements and many people would be without work and fewer taxes could be paid. It’s hard to image Apple being that small, but it was. All businesses start out that way.
My problem is the healthcare bill.
Currently, I have basic healthcare. When I’m working through an agency I can access their group plans and it only costs me about $120 per month before out-of-pocket expenses. Under the Affordable Care Act, it’s closer to $250 per month for basic coverage. Ouch, but do-able. With the basic coverage, I can get the well woman checks which will catch anything early so I don’t have large medical issues later. A pap smear is much less expensive than chemotherapy. I’m grateful for that. It also meant that two years ago I could have the blood tests, x-rays, and consultations that determined I have fibromyalgia. It’s a chronic illness of which there’s currently no cure. It manifests in everyone differently and I’m fortunate that I don’t require medications, occupational therapies, or on-going care. It’s not progressive, so it’s unlikely to generate medical costs in the future.
However, fibromyalgia is on the list of pre-existing conditions in the healthcare bill currently being considered by the Senate. By you.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates my monthly premiums would remain about the same – if I didn’t have fibromyalgia. I haven’t found premium cost estimates under the Senate proposal because it’s so dependent on each state applying for a waiver and about half are expected to. The House bill estimates were terrifying. Just because of a diagnosis, my monthly premium for only me could be in the thousands. A diagnosis that won’t generate costs.
We are a community, so I’m totally in for sharing risk with my fellow Americans. I also admit the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect and a tad expensive for me. However, there are different ways we can decrease costs. I like the Australian model of insurance companies having to justify their expenses to the federal government. It definitely decreases the price padding we see state-by-state. Let’s see if we can decrease expenses before raising costs.
My request of you
I do want to stay in the United States. And I do want to continue helping American businesses. While you’re celebrating Independence Day and having summer barbecues (which I hope you enjoy), I ask you think what is best for the health of all Americans. Is it that you make healthcare unaffordable, which will force me to leave the country that had welcomed me? Or is it that we can build the country’s health and keep it the land of dreams and opportunities for all.
You support the people and I’ll market their businesses. We can do this.
PS, I’m very excited to be able to vote in all upcoming elections.