"I Was Healthy" On Twitter Tells The Stories Of Americans Who Never Knew How Much They'd Need Health Insurance
One of the GOP's primary arguments for the Graham-Cassidy bill is that people shouldn't have to pay for more coverage than they personally need. However, most Americans know that this isn't how insurance actually works — indeed, it's antithetical to the entire concept of insurance — and many people are letting legislators know that they want a health insurance system that supports all Americans. Thousands shared heartbreaking stories on Twitter about why America should protect health care using the hashtag #IWasHealthy, and they put a very necessary personal perspective on the issue.
Although the GOP's insistence on getting Americans the lowest possible health insurance premiums is theoretically commendable, the reality is more nuanced than that. Insurance only works if the amount that the insurance company collects from its customers is greater than what it has to spend providing health care. Moreover, if sick and elderly people were collectively banned from buying health insurance, for instance, premiums would decrease, because insurance companies wouldn't actually end up paying for very much medical care. But of course, the end result of this would be fewer people having access to health care, not more.
Despite its flaws, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) built in safeguards to prevent insurers from charging sick people more for insurance, or denying coverage to those with "pre-existing conditions." With the Graham-Cassidy bill poised to come up for a vote before the end of the month, Americans are trying to let Congress know that they don't want to get rid of Obamacare's patient protections.
Your Disease Could Come On Suddenly
From a practical standpoint, a "lower premiums for healthy people" policy is impossible: Any and everybody can go from healthy to unhealthy at the drop of a hat.
Or You Could Be Born With It
For those born with pre-existing conditions, Graham-Cassidy bill is nothing short of discriminatory. There's nothing they can do to change their health status, and shouldn't be punished by the government for the way they were born.
Or It Could Be An Accident
Accidents can strike anybody at any time (that's why they're called accidents), and no one wants or deserves to be facing financial ruin while they try to heal.
You May Be Fighting For Your Own Health...
Serious and sudden health needs are unforeseeable, and can strike at any time. That's why we have insurance to begin with.
... Or Advocating For Someone Else's
#IWasHealthy but my daughter, still on my insurance thx to ACA, had life-threatening allergic reaction, ambulance, hosp. stay. All covered.— K Carl (@kcarl4100) September 21, 2017
The Affordable Care Act allows children to stay on their parents' health care plans until the age of 26, a godsend to young people who suddenly find themselves needing urgent medical care.
You Shouldn't Have To Worry About Bills, Too
If insurance companies charged each customer based on their individual health needs, those who ended up requiring expensive health care wouldn't be able to afford their premiums, forcing them to drop out of the market entirely — and, in effect, eliminating the point of insurance to begin with.
This Will Hurt Veterans, Too
President Trump often notes how much he loves America's "wounded warriors," and yet the bill he's poised to sign would do untold damage to U.S. veterans around the country.
Birth Control Has Purely Medical Uses
The Affordable Care Act contains provisions to ensure that American women can access birth control (which has plenty of legitimate non-contraceptive uses). The Graham-Cassidy bill would eliminate these protections.
Sick People Don't Deserve The Emotional Stress Of This Bill
Nobody gets sick by choice.
Climate Change Has Played A Role, Too
#IWasHealthy, but then at a late age, I developed allergies and needed healthcare, thanks to climate change.— FLoridaVoice (@FloridaVoice) September 21, 2017
The Centers for Disease Control has warned that climate change will affect the transmission of infectious diseases in unpredictable ways, making it all the more important that as many Americans as possible have affordable, comprehensive health insurance.
And I'm Done Trying
At the end of the day, collectivized health care, otherwise referred to as "health insurance," is about caring for others, and that means pooling resources to guarantee that sick people will have access to health care.
If Anyone Should Get It, McCain Should
Sen. John McCain, who's currently undecided on the bill, is battling cancer. Thankfully for him, he's a U.S. Senator, and thus enjoys taxpayer-funded, government-provided health care. He should understand as much as anybody that you're sick, you need the financial freedom to be with your family.
People Can Be Battling These Conditions Nearly Their Whole Lives
#IWasHealthy until I was 12, when I developed one of those preexisting conditions on that list going around. Already reached the cap.— TheGirlwiththeSign (@SolarFlare_PHX) September 21, 2017
It's depressing enough to have a chronic illness. Sick people shouldn't have to spend their lives fighting with the government and insurance companies.
Health Emergencies Can Strike At Any Time
Many Americans with health insurance will find themselves paying for other people's health care in some instances and having their health care paid for by other people in others.
Obamacare's Not Perfect, But It's Better Than No Obamacare
#IWasHealthy until my infant caught a virus in the store and the ensuing medical debt drove us into poverty.— A. Parent (@magsmac17) September 21, 2017
Although it's coming at a semi-desperate moment, this Twitter trend is inspiring. Americans are sharing their stories so that everyone can understand and appreciate the power of collective care, and these Twitter testimonials are proof of the power of looking out for each other.
Seth Millstein contributed to this report.