“Obamacare” is a loaded term in the minds of many Americans. Politicians sling it around as if it is some dispensable abstraction that can be done away with: a faulty, arms-length phenomena that really never had an impact and that was self-destructive from its very beginning.
The Affordable Care Act is sometimes portrayed as if it’s some nonsense piece of parchment, easily scrapped without consequence from the tradition of American jurisprudence.
I want to bring the abstraction down to earth to simply tell you about a particular aspect of Obamacare that has helped my family and me — to splash a little humanity in your face, so next time you get all red and puffy with ire when addressing The Affordable Care Act, you can maybe have a little nuance to your bluster.
During the summer before my eighth grade year, when I was just 13 years old, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The story itself is emotional, vertiginous and has an altogether soap opera-ish feel to it: adults in low light, mussing their hair in distress, the patient (me) sitting up in bed, eating hospital eggs off a tray the color of an old library shelf, and doctors coming in the room humbly, with their hands behind their back, to deliver the news. You get the picture.
After my diagnosis, of course, I was prescribed medication. First, it was an injection once a week by means of a needle approximately the length of my pinky with nasty side effects termed as “flu-like.” Currently, my medication is administered subcutaneously thrice a week, with no side effects.
The point I’m finally arriving at is that these medications are expensive. One injection, 40 milligrams, is $300. This, times three, is $900, which bring the monthly dues to about $3,600.
Without Obamacare, insurance companies could have denied coverage of my medication under the restriction that it is a “pre-existing condition,” that is, a condition I had before The Affordable Care Act was enacted. Under The Affordable Care Act, “health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you or charge you more just because you have a ‘pre-existing condition,’” so, put simply, my medication is covered indiscriminately. The question I pose is that of micro-to-macrocosmic effect: am I an isolated incident, or could there be many whose quality of life has been altered?
The point is not to take some moral high ground, but to show you that sometimes the egalitarian principles America is so proud of, those that we espouse to the rest of the world, are sometimes compromised by cloudy understanding. Some attempts at maintaining those principles are condemned on the basis of ignorance.
There may be aspects of The Affordable Care Act that you disagree with and that is fine. The bill and mechanizations of its deployment have issues, to be sure.
But a facet many people who sweepingly condemn Obama’s piece of legislation are unfamiliar with is the pre-existing condition clause, a part of the bill I would like to think any fair-minded person would agree with.
It is this, a crumb of humanity, something that seems to be so devoid in our politics of polarization, that I am trying to show you.
A vignette you can use in your next moment of intractable partisan discord. In this moment of hard exteriors and incorrigible opinions, I hope I’ve added a bit of flexibility, maybe even positivity, some lucid emotion. It’s not all fire and brimstone.