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Ann-Mary MacLeod's picture

In 2005 I moved into a dorm room in California while I was a full-time graduate student. Unbeknownst to me the building had a mold and mildew problem and I had a horrible allergic reaction to it. It started with symptoms similar to getting a cold. But before long my lungs were producing mucous and I was getting sicker and sicker.

My first trip to urgent care came when I went home to New Mexico over the winter holidays and was so sick that I scared my sister. I would get to the point where I literally couldn’t breathe, I had to sleep sitting up, and my condition was clearly getting worse and was not a cold. I was given albuterol through a nebulizer, sent home with a prescription for prednisone and several inhalers.

Naively, I thought one round on the prednisone and I’d be fine. But no. Days after finishing it I was just as sick as before. Now back in California, I went to see my primary care physician and headed back to the dorm with a referral to a pulmonary clinic and more prednisone. The referral ended in a diagnosis of asthma and multiple inhalers including Advair. I’ve been reliant on the latter for over 11 years.

I was too sick to continue my studies – weak and exhausted from months of inadequately treated asthma, so I went back home. Immediately I tried to get health insurance and was denied by multiple companies. Because my asthma treatment was steroid dependent I was considered to have a pre-existing and uninsurable condition. Advair costs hundreds of dollars every month!

Initially upon return I was self-employed, but with the draining prescription costs, I had to find a job offering health insurance. I was lucky enough to have saleable skills and found a position.

About a year ago, my partner and I decided we wanted to move to Arizona. Now that the Affordable Care Act was available, I was able to choose to be self-employed and was able to get an excellent insurance plan that covers all my health care needs including my otherwise prohibitively expensive, but lifesaving inhaled steroid! 

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