{Election 2016} Your Voice Is Not Lost

For some it’s just an election. For some it’s a chance to make a choice and to shape our country. For some it is our duty to vote while others say “ahh someone else will do it so I don’t have to.” 

I know it’s over. The media keeps telling me that. I know it’s a new day, but this new day is filled with uncertainty. The country I believed in is no longer the same as it was on Tuesday morning. You say there is nothing I or anyone can do. But there is, we all have a voice, a voice that can change the world around us. 

In 2009 I became a pre-existing condition. I paid more for insurance than my healthy counterparts. The law allowed this. In fact I was grateful because the law also said that they could deny me coverage based on my pre-existing condition. When I switched to contracting I couldn’t afford the insurance premiums so I went without. Which was on my part a costly mistake. 

I was angry and heartbroken so I did what any American would do, I got involved. I started talking to my law makers, I joined advocacy groups that allowed me to use my voice. I started raising awareness and speaking all over the country about the importance of affordable healthcare. My part was tiny but it was indeed a part in what we now know as the Affordable Healthcare act that changed my life for the better. My outspokenness earned me an invitation to Washington D.C. to give a speech on the capital steps right along side Nancy Pelosi and other members of congress. To them I mattered I am the American they were fighting for. 

Trump wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare. He sees it as a failure and not a success. To some it is a failure but to the people who are benefiting from it, it is a godsend. The rising cost of health care should not be blamed on the affordable care act, look deeper more people than ever have access to care which means insurance companies are paying out more and taking less in. Which in turn causes them to raise the premiums and copays for services. 

Repealing the Affordable Care Act will not stop the rising costs instead it will make care inaccessible for people just like me. Millions of Americans will be cut off from the care that they so desperately need to survive and that they cannot afford without the ACA. My fear is that my health care will once again become inaccessible. Millions of Americans are sharing this fear right now. We are waiting for this new day to unfold with abated breath, our lives they are on the line. 

This country can either thrive on fear or it can rise up and greet it. One thing I do know is that the grass roots of this country are strong and just like before we can make a difference. Start speaking to your law makers tell them why the affordable care act is important and how it benefits those in your life. Start talking to your neighbors let them know that love trumps hate. Start making a difference, set an example for the next generation. Show the world the we are better than Trump’s words and actions. We are America and as long as we love her she will never steer us wrong. 

{Happy Birthday} Goodbye 32, Hello 33

I of all people know that with trial comes triumph. We cannot have the good moments without the bad. It’s how the world turns, no one’s life is meant to be perfect. A perfect life is a life not well lived. Mistakes are lessons and trials are our teachers, with each trial we gain strength. 

32, was a gosh darn great year. I have finally found my stride and I’ve come to terms with the fact that “life goes on.” In February I graced billboards, bus stop posters, and the TV screen raising awareness for women’s heart health. Being part of the Go Red Campaign was a privilege and an honor, I got to meet some amazing ladies that I now call my friends.

From billboard to DC, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be giving a speach on the Capital Steps next to Nancy Pelosi and other members of congress. The American Heart Asssociation, gave me the opportunity to share my health insurance journey with the nation. I got to thank members of congress for securing my healthy tomorrow.

Life, it goes on and love, it finds a way in. Never in a million years did I think year 32 would be the year I fell in love, again. I let myself fall, fall for a man who loves me for me and accepts that our life isn’t meant to be perfect. 

On Mother’s Day Jay and I found out that we were expecting. I was terrified the impossible just became possible. Jay was excited, he spent time looking up baby items online, we started to plan out our nursery, picked out named, and I slowly let myself love our baby. Only to have my dream dashed. 

Our baby, baby E was not meant to be. Right now I should be 6.5 month pregnant, I’m not, our little sac never formed a fetal pole. Two sperms, they said fertilized the egg and a pathology report said it was a partial molar pregnancy. It just wasn’t meant to be, someone needed a baby more than we did, motherhood was so close yet eluded me in year 32. I have faith that my 3rd and Jay’s second pregnancy will be the charm, mother is a job that I desperately want. 

In July it became official I was no longer a single girl, I was engaged, I belonged to someone and that is what I’ve always dreamed of, I wanted to belong and not be alone.

My nephew Jack arrived in July and I fell in love all over again, he has his auntie wrapped around his little finger. Sophia is getting bigger by the day, she is turning into a sassy little lady. I love those two littles with all of my heart, the greatest title I have is Auntie, there is no better job than that. 

32, was my teacher, it taught me to never lose faith and that if I believe in myself anything is possible. I will walk away from 32 knowing that my body is still capable of creating life, my heart she may be weak, but she beats on, and that I am more than a dollar sign. Merck will always be apart of me, year 32 is the end of the Nuvaring’s chapter, life it goes on.

With my muppet like dog by my side, my life quietly fell into place. I have a man that I adore,  I got a new job that I love, and I’ve got hope for a very bright 33.   

{Heart Walk} Tomorrow is Why I Walk 


TOMORROW is why.

I want to have a billion more tomorrows. A billion chances at seeing the sunrise and set. I want a billion nights under star filled skies and a billion bon fires by the shore. I want a tomorrow. I want to get married again. I want to build a tiny home (I am obsessed with them), have a family, travel the world, and mostly I want to secure a healthy tomorrow for all of us. That is my wish that every single one of us will have a billion tomorrows. Life is so uncertain and your tomorrows can be ripped from you in a blink of an eye. I am going to focus on living in the moment and not waste a precious drop of sweet sweet time.

Life is why! 

Research will guarantee a healthy tomorrow for all of us. Please join us in the fight against heart disease and stroke, walk with us on April 25, 2015 at Target Field. 

Twin Cities Heart Walk 2015

{Affordable Care Act} D.C. Meet AJ

There are moments where I have to pinch myself to make sure that I really am living this life. I went from survivor to advocate, to spokeswoman. Last Thursday I received an email from the American Heart Association’s National Advocacy office inviting me to Washington D.C. This just wasn’t any old regular invite, this this was an opportunity of a life time. I was invited to Washington D.C. by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. When Nancy Pelosi invites you to D.C., you go, YOU GO and I did just that.


I went and I became a part of history. I was invited to DC to speak at a press conference celebrating the 5th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. The conference was held on the Capital Steps and it was organized by Leader Pelosi and members of the Democratic Caucus. Together we celebrated the Act and the fact that is working for millions of Americans. I am just one of the millions of Americans who benefited from the Affordable Care Act.

This was my moment to put a face to a cause. Words cannot describe the impact the Affordable Care Act has made on my life. As a Pulmonary Embolism / Stroke survivor I can no longer be denied coverage or be forced to pay more because of my medical history. In the eyes of the law I am equal to my healthy peers and because of this I am able to afford quality insurance and put my health first.


Yes, I found myself struggling to choose between paying my bills or paying for the medical care that I needed. For 18 months I went without health insurance and for part of that time I was only making $12 an hour. My most expensive prescription was $287.00 a month and I tried skipping it for a while, that just turned into a very expensive disaster. No one should ever have to choose between life saving care and bills. I never for one thought I would ever be in that position, but at 28 I found myself there. I found myself struggling to stay a float and was ashamed that I could not afford the health care I desperately needed.


Today I am no longer ashamed, I am empowered. I have an insurance card in my pocket and I owe it all to the Affordable Care Act. I no longer had to settle for a job, instead I got to hold out for the one I wanted. I no longer have to check the couch for spare change just to pick up my prescription. Instead I walk right into Target and pay only $20.00 for a brand name drug. I can afford to go to the doctor and I am now getting routine care. I can for the first time in a very long time, put my health first. Life is not worth living if you do not have your health.

{MNSure} To Be An Insurable Human Again

I can read a benefits packet and analyze a prescription drug formulary like no buddy’s business. For three years I worked for the nations largest Pharmacy Benefit management company and was taught the ins and outs of the insurance world. I received numerous calls from people trying to get medications covered for pre-existing conditions. The only thing I could do was offer up prior authorization or connect them to a pharmacist to look for a covered option.

At 27 I was a freshly divorced pulmonary embolism/stroke survivor, I quit my job, and found myself trying to get insurance in a world that didn’t want to cover a risk. I was no longer seen as AmandaJean, instead I was seen as a pre-existing condition, a drain on an insurance plan. I was young and vibrant, yet my PE plagued me. I searched for an affordable plan, the cheapest one I found was $700 a month for sub par coverage. I couldn’t find fulltime employment, instead I became a contractor and that offers no benefits what so ever. From October 2010 to June 2012 I went without health insurance.

Going without health insurance was like jumping into shark infested waters without a cage. I quickly learned how much medications really cost and had to decide between picking up my medications or paying my student loans. Needless to say my medications trumped my student loan payment and soon the collection calls started. Medical bills started piling up and before I knew it I was $10,000.00 in the hole. CT scans and echocardiograms are not cheap, neither are trips to the ER or urgent care. Since I didn’t have insurance I would try any over the counter remedy before giving in and going to the doctor. The Doctors I saw knew I was a self pay and they did their best to hook me up with samples and alternative care.

In the fall of 2011, I worked myself almost to death and managed to get a staph infection in my knee. I begged and pleaded with the doctor to let me go home, I told him “I can’t afford this, just let me go.” I got to go home four days later and waited for the bills to come. I cried when I saw the total and cashed in my 401K to pay most of the bill off. Only to find myself racking up new and bigger hospital bills. By the time Christmas rolled around I was desperately searching for a job that would offer me good health insurance. I went back to what I knew and took a job at a collections firm. I know, collections is not my cup of tea, however their insurance plan was.

I cried the day my insurance card came in the mail. I finally didn’t have to worry about paying full price for medications or services. I had insurance and I was happy. My job with the collections firm was short-lived, I found myself without a job in January 2013 and I knew one thing: “I was not going to go without insurance again.” I set out and search for an individual plan. The prices had come down quiet a bit since my last search and I knew I could not be denied this time around, thank you Affordable Health Care Act. I decided on an individual plan with HealthPartners, I filled out the online application and waited to receive my certificate of coverage in the mail.

At first I though HealthPartners was playing a joke on me and that the stated premium amount was wrong. I called and spoke to a representative, she double checked, and said AmandaJean that’s right your premium is $94.63 per month. After a long pause, she realized that I was crying. I explained to her that having affordable insurance meant I could hold out for the job I wanted and not rush into something that would give me insurance. By the end of our conversation she was crying right along with me, HealthPartners gave me peace of mind and my life back.

MNSure is an incredible idea and now thousands of Minnesotans will be able to apply for insurance without having to worry about pre-existing conditions and cost. On Tuesday night I logged onto the site and was very impressed by the easy to navigate layout and the types of plans offered. The online form is simple to fill out and asks you questions about income, family size, health habits and so on. Once you sign up for an account you are able to see what your real estimated premium would be and review the options best suited to you.

While MNSure is not the perfect answer, it is a good start and it provides easy access to health insurance for many Minnesotans. Best part is if you are like me and have a pre-existing condition you can no longer be denied nor can you be forced to pay a higher premium than your healthy counterparts. I learned the hard way: going without insurance is a bad idea one cannot afford to go without health insurance. Insurance is now an affordable option and there are many resources out there to help you in your insurance decision.

Here are a few resources to get you started:

http://www.ehealthinsurance.com ——-> (This is what I used to find my affordable HealthPartners insurance plan)
http://www.mn.gov/dhs ———> (Minnesota Department of Human Services)