I was struggling to figure out a piece for this month’s post and what I kept coming back to is my healthcare journey and the uncertainty of the last year. My childhood does not contain memories of not supported medically. If I was sick as a child, my parents took me to the pediatrician, I went to the dentists bi-annually, and I even got connected to a dermatologist to help figure out my persistent struggle with acne as well as catching a mole before it became skin cancer. But that all changed when first I was kicked off my parents’ insurance plan due to age limit and further pushed into a medical coverage oblivion when I attended graduate school.
My school does not have a very well connected or supported health plan for its students and its price tag was not something that was factored into the monetary support and loans. So, I entered a world of non-coverage. I became quite savvy in finding homeopathic remedies and cheap over the counter medicines. I was constantly reminded that I was on my own in regards to my future health concerns and let me tell you it was an unpleasant position to be in. Someone mentioned one day why don’t I consider getting coverage through the state and federal programs, so I brave the mess that is government websites and tried to see if I qualified. I was dismayed to see that I was denied coverage due to the amount of my graduate loans and grants.
Then in 2012, through the works of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid got an overhaul – I finally qualified as did countless others. And yes, it was a lengthy experience to signing up, getting approved, establishing care, and learning the ways of federal funding healthcare. 2015 enters and with it my intimate understandings of the power and the importance of universal healthcare. Through the Affordable Care Act, I could get a dentist, regular doctor, gynecologist, and even a dermatologist. And yes, it is a pain and a half to go through the federal referral, to battle the influx of thousands of other people also trying to receive treatment. But the more I used the services offered, the more I realized that health insurance, the ability to know that if something bad happens not only will you be treated but the bill won’t cripple you into debt.
And as I continually received medical services, reliable and affordable, I was bombard by people and politicians that were speaking on the dangerous nature of the ACA. Yes, the system was flawed, yes, many people saw their insurance go up, plans change, and so on. But as I was in the eye of the storm I saw the countless people it was helping. Women, seniors, large populations of lower and middle class could receive services that had been denied or unaffordable. I myself was able to receive top notch women’s health coverage when my body decided to form cysts on my ovaries. I was able to received continual check-ups for my fair skin so I would not have skin cancer like I almost did when I was 20.
So, with the aftermath of the presidential election and the insistent drive of the republican party to appeal the ACA brought back the fear and the uncertainty of being uncovered medically. I have cried, I have feared, and now I have raged. I will not be silenced. I am one of the 14 million Americans that will lose coverage if the Republican Health Repeal and Reform Bill is enacted. I will be sent back into the oblivion and in even worst shape then before – because I now have two medical conditions which require constant medical monitoring and assistance, both of which carry large medical costs if not covered.
Going through the last year and a half of diverse medical issues, and even going to the dentist for the first time in five years – I know what the Affordable Care Act does and more importantly I know what it means. It means that every person in this country deserve the right to be medically treated and covered. It means that one does not have to worry that if a medical issue comes up, they won’t be threatened with crushing debt.
This is the face of what the ACA means. This is the facts – not that it was presented by a black democratic president or that there is an assumption that it is just so people who wanted handouts could get free coverage. The stats don’t lie, we were the only industrial world with the largest population of uncovered citizens. Now, senior citizens do not have to tap into their life savings to pay for their medicine, mental health services were being covered, over 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions were no longer penalized or denied coverage. That fact alone is staggering. We cannot go back – this is the right of every citizen, this is what it means to the pursuit of happiness – the pursuit of living a life with the unconscious knowledge that their health will be treated. America needs to be the land of the free, home of the brave, and the medically covered! And it was these facts, this ideal which crumbled the dreaded “Trumpcare” on Friday. As of today, ACA will remain intake, coverage will continue – but our fight is not over. Improvements are always needed. We will always need to reevaluate but thankful we are at a point where coverage is well covered!
Anjeanette LeBoeuf is a Ph.D Candidate in Women Studies in Religion at Claremont Graduate University. She is the Queer Advocate for the Western Region of the American Academy of Religion. Her focuses are divided between South Asian religions and religion and popular culture. She has become focused on exploring the representations of women in all forms of popular culture and how religion plays into them. She is an avid supporter of both soccer and hockey. She is also a television and movie buff which probably takes way too much of her time, but she enjoys every minute of it. Anjeanette has had a love affair with books from a very young age and always finds time in her demanding academic career to crack open a new book.