Health care act a lifesaver for Fishers woman

Health care act a lifesaver for Fishers woman
Chelsea takes several medications for her condition.
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Many people are trying to understand just how the new health care law will affect them.

Eyewitness News is committed to helping central Indiana families by exploring different issues though our "Your Health Your Choice" series.

One woman shared her experience with Eyewitness news reporter Mary Milz on why she's so outspoken about the new law.

Chelsea Wheeler looks forward to time on the boat. Thursday, the 22-year-old from Fishers, took a spin around Lake Winona with her parents.

"I absolutely love it," she said. "Just coming out, feeling good and relaxing."

That hasn't always come easy for the recent Ball State graduate. Once inside her parent's new lake home, Chelsea began pulling pill bottles out of her purse, noting, "This I take every day. This one is for infection and this one is for sleep."

She takes nine different medications every day.

Pointing to two bottles, she said, "For these alone, it would easily be $3,000 a month."

Chelsea lives with chronic kidney disease.

She said, "When I got sick, I was 13 and it was kidney failure."

Doctors discovered Chelsea had only one kidney. She spent her teen years in and out of hospitals. Her health stabilized in college, but during her junior year, it took a turn. Chelsea needed a transplant. Her mother was the donor.

Looking at some of the many photographs her father took at the time, Chelsea pointed to one where she and her mom were in their hospital gowns hugging just before going off to surgery.

She recalls, "Both of us were emotional because I was scared I would lose her."

She didn't. Both are fine, but Chelsea's medication does cause tremors.

"Usually it's just shaking hands, but sometimes it goes up my arms and body," she said.

Her biggest concern now? Repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act, which Chelsea knows is highly controversial.

"People bring it up to me and they don't realize, if it goes away, it would be a world of hurt for me, literally," she said.

While Chelsea has a good job, because she's a contract employee she's not eligible for insurance through the company. With the new law she can continue on her parents' plan until she turns 26. It pays for all her meds, including those very expensive anti-rejection drugs.

"Rejection happens really quickly if you don't take them every day," she said. "I would die without them."

Chelsea also can't be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition or face lifetime limits. Her medical costs so far? $600,000 and climbing. She said the odds of needing another transplant are high.

"My entire life is based on getting medical care and without the Affordable Health Care Act I would not be able to do it," she said. "I'd be drowning in debt trying to pay by myself."

While Chelsea realizes many people oppose the law for various reasons, she's convinced for her and others living with chronic disease, "It's a lifesaver."