My name is Kathleen. I am 33 years old and live in Livingston County. After I graduated from college, I had no health care coverage for 4 years even though I was working two jobs at the time. At one job, I did not qualify for coverage as I averaged 33 hours a week there and 35 hours was the minimum required. Even though my other full-time employer offered coverage, it was too expensive for me to afford because I had a pre-existing condition. I had previously had Stage II melanoma —metastasized skin cancer which is a leading killer of young women. During this time, I paid out-of-pocket for any medical care I needed, but mostly I avoided seeking treatment because it was too expensive. When I finally found an employer who offered meaningful coverage that I could afford, I went for my long over-due screenings, and found out that my cancer was back. Melanoma is easy to treat in its early stages, so if I had been able to get coverage, a simple visit to a dermatologist would have likely been the end of my treatment. However, since I could not afford a simple screen for years, my cancer again metastasized. I ended up needing invasive surgery and rounds of chemo. This not only risked my life, but equated to unnecessary medical spending if I could have accessed routine, preventative care. Had I not lucked into an employer with affordable insurance, I would likely have died 7 years ago.
I believe that health care is a human right and our government has an obligation to protect that right like other governments in the world already do. When I was 18 and studying abroad in the UK, I had a medical emergency and was terrified about how much this would cost and if my study-abroad experience would be cut short in order to return home for treatment. When I was released from the hospital and asked about the bill, however, I was told there was none. Even though I was a foreigner, the NHS covered me for free. It was possibly the most wonderful relief I have ever experienced. If my taxes had to go up (proportionate to my income) in order to provide every US citizen with free preventative care, treatment, and emergency care, I would gladly pay it. I am a patriot, and I believe that taking care of my fellow citizens and visitors to my nation is one of the primary duties of any true patriot. That is why I support the New York Health Act.