Society and Culture
Obamacare Is Here to Stay! But It Still Kind of Sucks
Happy April Fool’s Day, folks! Guess what happened last night while you were sleeping?
The Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period ended, and the government reached its goal metrics. Signups on Healthcare.gov and 14 state-based exchanges cleared the 7 million mark — the minimum enrollment goal — and will continue to grow over the next few weeks as last-minute signups clear the system.
This is pretty exciting. Why? Because Obamacare is officially too big to easily dismantle. The Republicans, with all their blathering on about bullshit death panels and anti-Americanism, have lost this fight. Healthcare reform is a thing that happened. And it’s not un-happening anytime soon.
And that’s a huge deal. Medical care is insanely expensive in the U.S., as is quality health insurance. Those high price tags have locked tons of low-income Americans out of quality healthcare, leaving them with lower standards of living and shorter life expectancies.
Basically, the high cost of healthcare has turned a basic human need into a luxury for the rich. It’s established that some lives (ahem, rich folks) are more important than others. And that’s super fucked up.
So thanks, Obamacare, for taking a first step toward fixing that problem.
But! Let’s not get too excited. Obamacare is still full of problems. The ACA is NOT universal healthcare — not by a long shot, and it shows. Let’s investigate, shall we?
Sarah, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, is a recent beneficiary of the Affordable Care Act. She signed up for the Empire Catastrophic Guided Access Plan back in February. Under this plan, Sarah pays nearly $200.00 a month for the most basic of health insurance — her copays and deductible are high, making her policy little more than a guarantee that she won’t go completely bankrupt if she gets cancer tomorrow. (So we hope.)
Unsurprisingly, Sarah’s not super pumped about the state of her healthcare coverage. As a 20-something-year-old with mountains of student loan debt and a low-paying, entry-level job, she’s on a tight budget. And every month, $200 of that budget goes toward her health insurance — and that’s if she doesn’t actually try to use it.
So, why, if this plan was so lackluster, did Sarah choose it? Aside from the obvious factor of affordability (this plan is about as cheap as they come), Sarah wanted to make sure she could access birth control and STI screenings through her insurance.
“I signed up for this plan because, on the Planned Parenthood website, it listed Empire as an accepted insurer,” Sarah said. “But it turns out, for my plan, they are out of network, even though when I called they said I was covered.”
“Turns out STI screenings are not covered at all, so I have to not get tested ever, and I have to try to find a gynecologist who takes my insurance. I also no longer qualify for state assisted birth control at Planned Parenthood because I have health insurance that isn’t actually health insurance. I am literally worse off than when I was uninsured.”
So, thanks to Obamacare, Sarah is essentially paying more money for less access to the healthcare she needs. And that’s really not cool.
There have been a lot of GOP horror stories about the Affordable Care Act. This video is one of them.
Largely, these tales are vague, exaggerated, or entirely untrue. They’re pure propaganda for conservaturds who want to keep the healthcare industry as privatized and profitable as possible.
But then there are real people, like Sarah, who really aren’t making out too well under Obamacare. Stories like hers aren’t to denounce the ACA as a complete failure — even she conceded that the Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction.
But Sarah is living proof that there are a lot more steps that need to be taken in that direction. Quality healthcare still isn’t truly accessible to countless American citizens. Obamacare is not universal healthcare. And that’s really what we need.
So, now that Obamacare has reached its enrollment goals, let’s keep pushing, shall we? Let’s make healthcare a thing that we can actually use.
Hannah R. Winsten (@HannahRWinsten) is a freelance copywriter, marketing consultant, and blogger living in New York’s sixth borough. She hates tweeting but does it anyway. She aspires to be the next Rachel Maddow.
Featured image courtesy of [Daniel Borman via Flickr]