I don’t do well with uncertainty. In my younger years, it would keep me up at night and make me sick to my stomach. As I’ve aged, I’ve grown accustomed to some level of it, and I’m grateful, because I can’t think of a more uncertain time. For the last few months where and how my family may be able to afford health care next year is always in the back of my mind. The U.S. Senate unveiled their latest health care bill on Thursday – which allows insurers to offer cheap, bare-bones policies in an effort to grow support among Senators.
While they volley the future of health care back and forth – the rest of us wonder what our health plans will look like in future years. I’m self-employed. My husband started his own company two years ago. While we’re both successful, we’re building something together from the ground up – and for that reason, a company health plan isn’t on the table. I know we’re not alone. We count on the ability to purchase premiums through the marketplace. Prior injuries and family medical histories make us grateful that we’re protected from any pre-existing conditions policies.
Yesterday I had the good fortune of listening to the Women AdvaNCe Blog Talk Radio Show – Healthcare – What Do We Need to Know, What Can We Do?. If you missed it, it’s worth a listen as you catch up on emails this morning. Our presenters, Ciara Zachary with the NC Justice Center’s Health Advocacy Project, Gary Greenburg with Urban Ministries of Wake County and Tara Romano with NARAL Pro-Choice NC gave us a thorough and in depth insight into what they’re seeing on the ground and in public policy when it comes to health care and how the pending changes may impact North Carolinians and specifically women.
During the call I found myself wondering – why are we even having this discussion? Of course women need proper well and reproductive care. This isn’t a partisan issue. And we know what happens when insurers are allowed to discriminate for pre-existing conditions. We know what happens when millions of people can’t access health care. The needs don’t stop. De-funding programs doesn’t prevent people from getting sick. (Why do I even have to say this?)
I’ve shared with you my personal stress about the future of healthcare, but the one positive thing I’m observing is that this climate is forcing more of us to engage. We’re contacting our lawmakers. We’re sharing our stories with elected officials. But beyond that – we need to educate each other, and part of that means that we need to step outside of our circles.
Earlier this week I found myself in a discussion with someone who feels hopeful that the new health plan will be better than Obamacare. She had much negative feedback on the structure of the Affordable Care Act. While we can all acknowledge the ACA isn’t perfect – there were great gains made since its implementation. While I listened to her parroting back soundbites echoed by the President and conservative media outlets, I found myself pulling from the facts I read all the time and sharing information with her. While my initial instinct was to shut down and dismiss the conversation, but we’ve got to start talking to each other and finding ways to respectfully educate. We are all on the same team, and we need to start acting like it.