Transcript: Elizabeth Bartenstein on how the health care law helps recent college graduates
Remarks by Elizabeth Bartenstein on the Affordable Care Act on March 23, 2012:
“My name is Elizabeth Bartenstein, and I want to thank Leader Pelosi and Whip Hoyer and [Assistant Leader] Clyburn for the opportunity to tell my story today. I know how important it is to have the opportunity to join my parents’ health insurance plan.
“In October of 2009, I had just moved back to my hometown, Richmond, Virginia, for a job at a small nonprofit. I didn’t qualify yet to be covered by my new employer, and I couldn’t join my parents’ plan in the interim because I was too old. My parents wanted to help, but there was little they could do. My mom works for a church, and my dad had lost his job during the recession.
“And then the impossible happened: I had a horrible accident at my apartment, involving my gas stove, where I received second and third degree burns on my chest, arm, and hands. With the help of a neighbor, I was able to walk next door – luckily there was a hospital within walking distance – and she took me to the hospital. And after being admitted, they decided to transfer me to the MCV burn unit downtown because my burns were so severe. I was kept there overnight, and my family and I were more scared about what was to come than we were about the accident that had just happened, because we all understood how expensive just one night in a hospital can be.
“So as scary as this was to me and my family, the pain truly after that was the bills. There were lots of them. By the time all was said and done, I owed tens of thousands of dollars for one night’s stay in the hospital, and I was completely uninsured. Not only will I forever remember that fateful morning, but I am still paying off the medical debt, and likely will be for many years to come.
“I have definitely made health coverage a top priority ever since. And after leaving the first non-profit job, I obtained individual coverage until I was insured at my next job. However, the insurance I had at the new job was inadequate. And so, in the meantime, with the new health care reform, since the law was enacted, I was able to add to my mother’s plan, which we did as a backup. But it turned out that that was a necessary backup. Because now I am in an interim job that does not offer health insurance, and I don’t have to worry about what that means for my health.
“And I would like to thank Leader Pelosi for her tremendous leadership on this issue. And I would like to thank groups like the Young Invincibles for giving voice to the challenges our generation faces in obtaining quality affordable health care. I wished the Affordable Care Act had been passed sooner, but I am glad that it is now the law of the land. I don’t have to worry any more that an unexpected accident could leave me owing medical bills for years to come. And now I don’t have to worry about insurance coverage when making a career move. Thank you.”
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