Month 75 – Distracted from Cancer

It’s good to be distracted. I’ve barely thought about prostate cancer since the holidays, and that’s been fantastic. What’s not fantastic is the reason for the distraction. One word: Trump.

I’ll not turn this into a political blog, but suffice it to say, I’m not a fan. But, seeing as the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is on the top of the new administration’s “To-do” list, some passing thoughts on the topic here are not out of line.

When I decided to leave my job five years ago and move from Indiana to San Diego (about 15 months after my surgery), my health insurance was intact through COBRA coverage. (For those readers outside the U.S., the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1985 gave employees who left their company the right to continue their health insurance coverage through their former employer’s health plan for up to 18 months after leaving.)

My COBRA coverage ended in September 2013, just a few months before the ACA’s requirement to cover individuals with preexisting conditions kicked in on 1 January 2014. I tried to purchase insurance on my own long before the September expiration of my coverage, but was told that I was uninsurable because of my prostate cancer diagnosis or, if they would cover me, the monthly premiums would have been north of $2,500 USD per month.

I’m a veteran of the U.S. Navy, so in May or June of 2013, I turned to the Veterans Administration (VA) to see if I would be eligible for care.

For those who don’t know, there is a tiered eligibility system in place to determine your eligibility and your level of care with the VA. Not all veterans will be eligible for care. Fortunately (?) for me, I served in-theater in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm during the first Gulf War. That made me eligible for coverage under the VA, and it’s where I’ve been getting my cancer care ever since.

We’ve already heard discussions of lifetime caps on coverage being reimposed; debates over preexisting conditions; and a host of other changes that scare the crap out of most people, cancer patients in particular. The administration has already imposed an across-the-board federal government hiring freeze at a time when the VA healthcare system is struggling to provide quality care to all the veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as to veterans like me. It’s simply bonkers (that’s a technical term).

So I’ll climb down off my soapbox now and thank the new administration for pushing the notion of cancer recurrence pretty much completely out of my mind for the last two months. There are bigger things for me to deal with than piddly little ol’ cancer.