We need to talk. I chose that phrase because it’s one of the most anxiety inducing phrases and it also strongly throws you to the edge of your seat waiting to hear what will be said. And I want you to do that. I want you to listen. And I want you to pay attention.
Yesterday, May 4, 2017, the House voted to “repeal and replace” Obamacare (or ACA, which apparently some people don’t realize are the same thing), which essentially is another way to say “got rid of.” Although it doesn’t necessarily mean that the bill will actually be passed and become a law- it will also have to go through the Senate, be debated on the floor, and jump a lot of other hurdles which I admittedly don’t really know or understand. So while it has a long way to go before it may possibly actually become law, and probably go through revisions, it’s still extremely disturbing. What’s more disturbing is that it even got this far.
Here’s the thing- it will be left up to the states to decide if things considered essential benefits will be covered. It would also allow insurance providers to charge more if someone has a pre-existing condition. You know, like cancer, diabetes, pregnancy, mental disorders, eating disorders. And the list goes on and on (for a more in depth list, click here). Think of everyone you know who suffers from what would be considered a pre-existing condition. Do you know anyone who has or had cancer? Been pregnant? Has asthma? Has been raped? Has a mental illness? Guess what, there is a possibility that they would not be covered. Now think about the repercussions from that. Picture those people and think about how you would feel if they were to die. Right now. Think long and hard about it. Think about what could help prevent that. What are they currently doing right now that is saving their lives? Chemo? Medication? Child birth in a hospital? If you aren’t already aware, those things aren’t cheap. They’re actually pretty much the opposite. If you don’t know how much they actually cost, Google it. How are they able to afford it? Insurance. If you’re lucky enough to not have money struggles, then you will probably be fine. Probably. At least in terms of money because guess what else. The bill also will give wealthy Americans tax cuts. The people who have no problem affording these things will receive tax cuts. Makes sense, right?
Let’s check out a real life example of what the passing of this bill could mean for someone- worst case scenario. I’m going to use myself as the example.
I am currently insured through ACA. I was previously insured through work, but since I decided to go back to school, I had to find another option. ACA was my option. I also have what is considered a pre-existing condition. I am diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar II, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. With the introduction of 2017, medication costs spiked. Or at least the ones I am prescribed did. I take 3 different medications a day and have another one for anxiety emergencies. My prescriptions call for a refill once a month. The costs for these medications totals roughly $300 per month without insurance. I see a psychiatrists every other week. It would cost $100 a visit, so about $200-$300 a month, depending on how many weeks are in the month. The grand total for medications and doctor visits would cost somewhere between $500-$600 a month. Right now, these services are free for me because of my insurance plan. I’m a student. I work as a GA for $10/hr. I have rent, utilities, basic living costs, etc. that I must pay every month. And we all know how expensive school is. Guess who wouldn’t be able to afford medication and doctor visits without insurance? Me.
Okay, let’s look at a scenario:
If the bill were to pass, I could possibly be uninsured. Which would mean no medication and no doctor. To be blunt, my medication and doctors prevent me from killing myself. If I were to go off of my medication, my moods would no longer be stabilized. My suicidal thoughts would become out of control. And I wouldn’t have access to a doctor to talk about it with because I can’t afford it. Now let’s say I make the decision to go to the hospital when my brain gets out of control. Reminder: the hospital is definitely not cheap. So, I get to the hospital, but I’m uninsured and can’t afford it so I’m turned away. That was my last option and now it is no longer available. Want to know what happens next? I kill myself. Say I don’t kill myself. The other alternative would be that I will not be able to hold a stable job. I will not be able to properly function. Therefore I would not be able to be a contributing member to society and the economy.
If I’ve offended you or made you sad through this example, I don’t apologize. Because this is my life. That would actually happen. And there are millions of others who would also be met with a demise of some sort, like me. 20 million of us to be exact.
Here’s another quick example:
Your mother, father, daughter, son, sister, brother, girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband, friend is raped. Which is terrible enough in itself. But pair that with the fact that because they have been raped they might be denied insurance coverage. So what are rape survivors going to do? They’re going to avoid telling anyone what happened. Do you know what can happen next? There are millions of stories out there if you want to read them.
Maybe this doesn’t personally affect you. Maybe you have nothing to worry about. And that’s fine. You’re lucky. But it will affect at least one person in your life. And in your case, that someone would be. I will be affected because of something I have no control over. Same as the 20 million others. And I find that disturbing. It’s disturbing that we will be punished for something we have no control over. Your father wasn’t able to control the terrible cancer that bullied itself into his body. Your best friend had no control over her rape (even though there are still people out there who would disagree). Your niece or nephew? Your sister was pregnant. Should she be rejected from coverage because she had a C-section? And no matter how much I wish I did, I had and have absolutely no control over the chemicals in my brain. And for those of you who knew me before I was on medication and in therapy, you know how imperative it is that I have both of those things.
So, I have an issue with this. I have an issue with the fact that for some reason, something like this would be met with any sort of approval from anyone. And that’s the biggest issue I have with it. That’s the thing that devastates me the most. That there are people who believe that I do not deserve to be insured. That my life doesn’t matter because of something I have no control over. That 20 million people’s lives don’t matter because of something they have no control over.
It’s also an issue that this has become a political issue. People’s lives should not be a political issue. I would like to think that every person believes that people should be able to have access to affordable health no matter who they are, what challenges they face, or how much money they make. Obviously there are problems with ACA. But I don’t believe the solution is to completely ax it. I think the solution is to fix these problems. Look at what’s working. Fix what’s not. This would involve our senators actually listening to us. And that doesn’t seem to be something they’re very interested in.
If you find yourself still supporting this bill, I would like you to look into my eyes and tell me that. I want you to tell me that my life doesn’t matter to you. That you don’t think that I should be offered the same opportunities or be able to seek proper healthcare because of who I am. I want you to tell me that you don’t care if I live or die. Am I being dramatic? No. This is real life. And this is my life that I would like to survive.