A key aspect of American political discussion over the past couple of years has been the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. From the moment it was signed in 2010, politicians who dislike the bill have been trying to dismantle it. It was something that our president promised to abolish, and as soon as the new congressional session began in January, politicians have been talking about (if not actually working on) how to achieve this. As of right now (late February, 2017), there is no concrete replacement that has been brought up; many simply want to abolish it.
As a disabled woman in her mid-twenties, the Affordable Care Act has greatly impact my life, and generally in a positive manner. While I’ve talked a lot about the ways that this bill has helped me on social media, I wanted to break it down in more detail here. I want to explain how it has helped me, as well as its value. I’m aware that it isn’t a perfect program, but it has done so much good for me personally, and I’m terrified of what might happen if it is repealed without a replacement, or if the replacement doesn’t have many of the characteristics that make it so helpful for me.
6 Ways the Affordable Care Act Has Helped Me
Preexisting conditions – It is now illegal for insurance companies to turn away people with pre-existing conditions (x). This should be pretty self-explanatory; without this, no insurance company would cover me, which means no medical treatments, which means extreme high pain (and potentially my arthritis going after organs because that’s a thing). Between physically living as well as having any kind of quality of life, my life depends on my treatments.
Staying on my parents’ insurance – You can stay on your parents’ insurance until you are 26, which is especially helpful for anyone who doesn’t have a job right after college, has a job that doesn’t have benefits, or can’t work (x). In my case, right after college, I was working as a teacher in Nashville, and I was able to be on my dad’s insurance so I could see my doctors in Massachusetts. I’ve been able to be on his insurance and will be until I turn 26 in June (which is TERRIFYING at the moment), which has enabled me to see my amazing medical team while I’m in grad school.
Eliminating lifeline and annual limits – Insurance companies can’t put limits on how much they pay for your healthcare per year or your life, which is an actual thing that happened (x)! Like, what?! “Oh, sorry, you were too sick this year. We’re not paying for you any more.” Whether you have a chronic illness or cancer or a car accident, you shouldn’t go into mountains of debt because something bad happened to you. This also goes back to the preexisting conditions conditions thing; if I need surgery or have an ER trip early in the year, that shouldn’t make it so I have to pay the full price of my healthcare for the rest of the year
These are just some of the ways this law has helped me, but they’re the major ones. You probably also noticed that this list doesn’t include getting insurance from the healthcare marketplace; this is because a) I’m still under 26 and have been able to stay on my parents’ insurance and b) there is so much more to this law than the insurance marketplace. A lot of people tend to focus on the marketplace on not always on the other elements of the law.
Is the Affordable Care Act Valuable?
The short answer? Yes, it is. It has provided insurance for many people who didn’t have it beforehand and probably saved many people’s lives. Like I said, I’m terrified of what my life would look like without the Affordable Care Act. While I get that many people prefer small government (aka the government staying out of everyone’s business), a big problem with the world is that there are industries and people who care more about making money than helping people. For example, insurance companies don’t want to insure people with preexisting conditions because they will cost more money than someone who has one physical a year and that’s it. In my opinion, the government needs to step in when it comes to situations like that to protect the citizens.
Laws like this are necessary in order to ensure than the average person is protected and doesn’t go into horrific amounts of debt because of our insurance and healthcare system. The United States has one of the highest amounts of medical costs compared to other countries like the UK, France, Australia, etc. (x). I know I’ve said this several times in this post, but it bears repeating: you shouldn’t go into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt so you can survive. That shouldn’t happen.