On Health Care in America & Believing In Your Worth

On Health Care in America & Believing In Your Worth

Life is not fair, and you will not always win. Believe in yourself anyway. Know your worth. This is critical.

Let me paint you a picture.

It has been an eventful past couple of days in the United States. The U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill to repeal Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Health Care Act. The current president, Donald Trump, has partially succeeded on his promise to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. The U.S. Senate will soon have to vote to decide whether to approve or reject the Trumpcare bill. 

The repeal of Obamacare would mean that 24 million people would be uninsured.

24 million people – Let’s conceptualize this.

New York City is the most populous city in America, with a total population of 8.4 million people. It is a huge, sprawling city with 5 boroughs and a mammoth subway system. The sidewalks are always crowded. The streets are an endless traffic jam. Now imagine that overnight, all of the people in this entire city vanished. That’s 8.4 million people in an entire city – gone.

Now I want you to summon in your mind the state of New York. It is the third most populated state in America, with 19.8 million people. Imagine that that everyone within the state of New York disappeared too. Our thought experiment has expanded from a ghost town to a ghost state, and yet we still haven’t reached the 24 million people projected to lose coverage if Obamacare were repealed.

Furthermore, these 24 million people projected to lose coverage under Trumpcare are not random people, but carefully selected and targeted groups of people. People who are deemed “unworthy” of healthcare.

Trumpcare, officially known as the “American Health Care Act” (AHCA) will disproportionately harm the following groups:

  • Poor people – this is not coded language for “minorities.” When I say poor people, I mean poor white people, poor black people, poor Asian people, poor Latino people, poor Native American people, poor biracial people. Poor young people, poor old people, poor people with liberal arts degrees and poor people who don’t have a GED.
  • Older Americans – Insurance companies would be able to charge a 65-year-old three times as much as an 18-year-old under Trumpcare.
  • People with pre-existing conditions – There is an extensive list of pre-existing conditions under Trumpcare. Under Obamacare, all insurers are required to charge everyone the same premium, despite their medical history. This would no longer be the case if Trumpcare passes. Under Trumpcare, if your baby contracted leukemia when she was 14 months old and was lucky enough to survive, she would be considered as having a “pre-existing condition.” You would be charged substantially more than other people for her health care.

The above is not a comprehensive list – you can read more here.

Point being, the people who are the most vulnerable members of society and need health care the most would be denied affordable care under the proposed AHCA/Trumpcare.

This sends a clear message to the abovementioned vulnerable groups.

This message comes from our nation’s leaders and the people who voted them into office. This is the message that they are sending:

  • Your health is not a priority
  • You are not worthy of affordable healthcare
  • If you can’t afford to pay a higher premium, you are not worthy of healthcare at all
  • You are not a deserving member of society
  • If you are not in perfect health, you are a financial liability
  • The quality of your life and your overall wellbeing is not important

These messages are being broadcast by powerful, privileged people in our society. I want to go beyond the political significance of these messages and focus on their psychological impact —

It is very easy to internalize these messages, even if you know that they are wrong.

These internalized, subconscious beliefs can be very insidious because sometimes they are hidden even to ourselves. A subconscious belief is like a program running in your mind – like code running in the background of a computer. You don’t see it, but it controls everything that you do. It controls what you think about, and it controls how you see yourself.

Say you are a woman who survived breast cancer, which is considered a “pre-existing condition.” You may know that your life is worth just as much as your best friend, who is in perfect health; but, you may not believe it. You may believe that your disability precludes you from being “worthy” of the same level of health care as your best friend.

If you are a guy in his twenties with an invisible disability like juvenile arthritis, even though you know that your life is worth just as much as your healthy coworker sitting beside you, you may honestly believe you don’t “deserve” affordable health care. You may not ask your boss for an accommodation to do your job in a way that will alleviate your joint pain because you don’t want to be “annoying.” You may see your disability as a financial liability for your employer. So you continue to act like you don’t have a disability, even though you’re constantly popping pain pills at your desk.

My worry with the potential passage of Trumpcare in the Senate is that it will further cement these negative internal beliefs in the minds of people who already feel oppressed and are already the most vulnerable members of society. It would send a resounding message that health care is a privilege, not a right. It would send a message that all Americans do not deserve equal access to health care. And if you don’t believe that affordable health care is your right, then why would you fight to claim it for yourself once it’s gone?

I am here to tell you that regardless of your health condition, your age, your socioeconomic background, your race, your ethnicity, your nationality, or any other factor –

  • – You do deserve equal access to health care.

  • – You do deserve to live a healthy life.

  • – You are worthy.

  • – You deserve affordable health care.

  • – If you’re not in perfect health, you deserve a health care system that will address your problem without judging you or making you feel less than.

  • – Your wellbeing and the quality of your life is paramount. Not only that, it is critical to the sustainability and the success of this country going forward.

I know that we live in the United States, where these statements are not affirmed and typically thrown up as though they are topics for “debate.” But, fundamentally, they are not up for debate.

Remember the words of America’s founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Remember the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the United States voted in favor of:

Article 25.
 (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Any politician who sends the message that “certain groups of Americans deserve affordable health care but not all Americans do” is gaslighting us all.

And even beyond national or international law, by virtue of being human and being alive, you deserve a great life. You deserve the healthiest life possible. You deserve a happy life.

Don’t get me wrong – Life is not fair. Even though you deserve equal access to health care, there are policies, structures and legacy institutions put into place that passively or actively impede you from living your best life.

Regardless, I want you to know and believe that you deserve a happy, healthy, great life. You are not asking for something “extra” or “more” when you ask for equitable health care. You are requesting what is rightfully yours.

While we work towards dismantling these outdated systems that take advantage of the most vulnerable members of society and thus lower the standard of living of all Americans, we have to have our mindset in the right place. If life (health and wellness), liberty (freedom to live your life unshackled), and pursuit of happiness (freedom to seek joy) are American rights, then it should not matter who gets sick in our societymuch less what their socioeconomic background, age, or race is. What matters is that we all pitch in to ensure that there is an affordable medical system in place to help any and every sick person swiftly make their journey back to health. We have to go beyond the protections that Obamacare afforded and guarantee universal health care coverage as an irrevocable right for ALL Americans.

I want to close with the words that I began with – life is not fair, but you have to believe in yourself and your worth. Maybe this Trumpcare/AHCA bill will pass in the Senate and all the hard work that Obamacare did will be undone. It would be a long road to fight to reclaim all of that progress again. But during that fight – and right now, especially – you have to know and believe in your heart that you are worthy of equal access to health care, worthy of affordable health care, and deserving of a great life. This you must believe so that our fight will be a winning fight.

For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. — 2 Timothy 1:7

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Julicia Rose