By Amy Lin
There’s been a lot in the news lately about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare. Partisan conflict about repealing the ACA is nothing new, but as we get closer to October 1, when the marketplaces open, I am constantly reminded of why so many of us are working tirelessly to ensure this law’s success.
At Young Invincibles, we hit the ground running with the Healthy Young America campaign, where we train organizations, engage young people, provide information, and explain new options to individuals who need coverage. Implementing this law is a key part of my professional life, but it’s also very personal.
I’ve spent significant periods of my life worrying about health insurance, managing a pre-existing condition, and buying catastrophic plans that didn’t cover doctor’s visits, preventive care, or well-woman visits. The catastrophic plans had high deductibles –$5,000 to $7,000, which meant if I had an accident, I’d owe a lot of money, but I wouldn’t be bankrupt. I was lucky to have that option, and at other times, I had good health insurance.
Through Young Invincibles, I’ve talked to young adults around the country about health care. When I think about the ACA and what it means for this country, I think about the young and uninsured Latino student leaders I met in Los Angeles. And the woman in Nevada with an abdominal tumor who’s waiting for Obamacare because she can’t get coverage otherwise. I’ve offered October 1 as a source of comfort for people who have no other options.
The struggle to get affordable health coverage touches everyone’s families. My parents are American citizens working overseas. Without Medicare, they wouldn’t be able to retire in the US. Medicare exists because decades ago, lawmakers did the right thing and expanded health coverage for older Americans. Today, we can’t imagine what the US would be like without Medicare. For those who’ve had few health care options, the ACA is just as important. There will always be partisan posturing and bickering in Washington, but delaying the ACA could mean life or death for many people.
Every day, countless advocates and community leaders are hard at work implementing the Affordable Care Act. My job, along with many others, is to get the 19 million uninsured young adults covered. I yearn for a day when people can’t imagine life without the Affordable Care Act, where we can’t remember what it was like to be uninsured, denied coverage, or to run out of benefits. I remind myself that we have to ignore the political grandstanding – that’s temporary. This law is here to stay, and it’s up to us to work together and spread the news. It all starts on October 1.