Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Obamacare and the fear of uncertainty

Thank you, Covered California. (
EDIT (1/12/2017): The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is being swiftly dismantled by Congress, and it could mean you or people you love will be unable to pay for health insurance in the near future. Now is the time to speak up to your representatives in Congress. I just made a phone call to my rep and it took less than a minute to state my opinion in favor of ACA. Find your congressman's contact information here.

Turning on the news this morning was an unwelcome wake up call. The night before was capped with an emotional farewell speech from President Barack Obama. Watching and hearing this man I helped elect in 2012 left me inspired as I arose from bed, only to have reality hit soon thereafter.

The transition from one president to the next is always a time of change, particularly when power transfers from one party (and thus one political ideology) to the next. After years of feeling represented by my government, I am acutely aware that my values are being and will continue to be compromised as we embark on the next four years together as a nation.

Usually I try to hold back these concerns in a public forum. Without a degree in Political Science and sans much of a background in reporting on political matters (save for a stint as an opinion writer on my high school newspaper), I don't always feel it is my place to voice my concerns about the future of the United States. I try to be an informed citizen. I read and watch the news on a daily basis. I make an honest effort to recognize my biased digital echo chamber, so I attempt to understand both sides by consuming news by those with whom I don't share the same ideology. Yet I am very aware that there are gaps in my knowledge and as a result I try to leave political reporting to political reporters.

However, in light of current circumstances, I cannot deny the feeling of dread and fear that is deeply held within me, and that I believe is no doubt felt by many of my fellow Americans - regardless of political affiliation. And I felt compelled to do what I do in moments of high stress and intense emotion: write.

I am one of many Americans who has benefitted from the Affordable Care Act - Obamacare, as it is known colloquially. Thanks to the subsidies provided by the ACA, I was finally able to adequately afford health insurance. My access to quality healthcare at a reasonable cost has given me the opportunity to access preventative care. Since signing up through Covered California, I have found a therapist who has helped me better understand my mental health. I have found an excellent women's health doctor who gave me tools to avoid the stroke and heart disease risk that run in my family. I have been able to see my primary care doctor at a low cost, meaning that a high deductible has ceased to be more scary than my health problems.

Obamacare, despite its many reported-on flaws (I, too, have struggled with increased rates in my renewed coverage), has been a savior for me in an uncertain time. Which is why the promise of repeal by the incoming administration without any stated viable alternative has become a constant source of anxiety.

My voice is one among many. I know I do not stand alone in my concerns. My fears are small against many who suffer from worse health conditions than I have experienced. They pale against those of individuals who have dealt with deeper dread at the thought of losing their coverage than I can even imagine.

It has become increasingly clear to me that I live in an unfair world. For part of this year, I had the benefit of gaining a global perspective on a long-term stay in London. The United Kingdom is a flawed country just like ours, but it is also a country that guarantees access to health care as a human right to all of its citizens in the form of the National Health Service (NHS). Yet somehow people who share my American citizenship do not deserve that same right. The reality is as simple as that.

To observe how Britons so fiercely fight to protect their access to single payer universal health care (labeled in our country as "socialized medicine"), was to see that this is an issue that crosses partisan lines. It is not red versus blue, Labour versus Tory (the colors are the reverse of the American parties'). We hear stories from American politicians defending our privatized health care stating that people complain constantly of long waiting periods for care in the UK, yet ask a British person if they'd prefer the American system and you'll get a speedy and blunt answer: "No."

Even if we disagree on how health insurance costs are handled, I think we can agree that the right to good health should be available to everyone, point-blank.

In the coming months, I will keep listening to this discussion on the national level. I will stay informed, as should we all, and voice my thoughts when I feel they need to be shared.

This is just one among many concerns that has become a constant source of unease in my day-to-day life. To cast it aside as another strictly political issue is to ignore the basic humanity that we all share, and I refuse to see it in anything less than black and white. We all deserve health care. There is no but.

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