By Jake Bleiberg
Erin McDonald – the winner of Young Invincibles’ Healthy Young American video contest – knows from personal experience how important it is to be covered.
As someone with type I diabetes, without the Affordable Care Act, Erin might currently be in a very bad spot.
The law school grad has type I diabetes, and at 26, was recently dropped from her parent’s insurance plan.
Like many millennials, Erin has found it difficult to find work in the present economy. Despite her law degree, she had to move back with her parents in Chicago while she continues her job search.
Yet while she can live under her parents’ roof, Erin has exceeded the age at which she can remained covered under their insurance. Nor does her part time work in environmental law for the City of Chicago provide her with healthcare coverage.
As someone with a medical condition, without the Affordable Care Act, Erin might currently be in a very bad spot. Without health insurance, her medical expenses could be through the roof. She’s at risk of being hospitalized and she has the ongoing expenses of medications, an insulin pump, and regular doctor visits.
So in the months leading up to her 26th birthday, she and her parents searched desperately for a private plan that would cover her, but she was consistently rejected because of her preexisting condition.
As the day she would be kicked off the plan loomed, the family began to stockpile insulin and insulin pump supplies. “We had no idea how I was going to get health care coverage,” Erin says.
But then her mother received an email about County Care, a Medicaid program being implemented under the Affordable Care Act to insure uninsured adults in Cook County, Illinois. And as part of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate, diabetes could not disqualify Erin from coverage under County Care. “It covers everything I need,” she says. “I cannot express in words how relieved I was.”
As the day she would be kicked off her plan loomed, the family began to stockpile insulin and insulin pump supplies.
It was in the process of looking for health insurance that Erin stumbled upon the young invincibles’s video contest, which asked young people to submit videos explaining why it’s important to get covered. Erin decided to create a video because she knows it’s easy not to be worried about health insurance when you are young and feel invincible. As she put it:
“I think it’s difficult for young people to understand how important coverage is when they haven’t been sick … There’s a mentality that nothing is ever going to happen to you, and I think it’s difficult to understand that something can happen to you, that you’re taking a risk every day.”
A talented singer, Erin chose to try to spread this message through an adaptation of Jessie J’s song “Price Tag.”
“I wanted to make a parody of an upbeat song so that people realized that the ACA is positively affecting many lives – including mine,” she says. Here’s a sample:
You’re young and wild and free, but you need to stay healthy. There’s no excuse to be uninsured. Just stop for a minute and think. You’re not immune to all disease.
Don’t need a lot of money, money, money to stay young and healthy, healthy, healthy.
We just want to make it more fair with affordable health care.
Erin wrote the lyrics in a couple of days, and then used her webcam to record herself singing.
In contrast to some of the other videos – like this one, which has the host being hit by a car – Erin’s does not take a “scare tactic” approach. Rather, she chose to focus on the accessibility of health insurance under Obamacare.
Erin’s video doesn’t use special effects or computer graphics, but the simple sincerity of her message shines through. It is clear just from watching her video how significant the issue is to Erin.
“I’m very excited to have won, and I hope that my song spreads a little bit of positive light on the Affordable Care Act, amongst all the negativity and misinformation that’s out there. That’s what I was basically trying to do with my song.”
The winner was announced last night during a Google+ Hangout for the White House Youth Summit.