What Obamacare Means For Me: Prevention and Peace Of Mind

As Monday's events showed, Obamacare is the Republicans’ Moby Dick and they will not concede until they catch their whale (or in this case, destroy it). The House attempted to delay the Affordable Care Act by one year and cut a tax on medical devices, but so far their efforts have failed. 

President Obama and Democrats said, “clean bill or no deal,” meaning they would not pass any measures against the health care plan. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told reporters Monday that he would vote against a government-funding bill that included provisions against Obamacare and urged his colleagues to do the same. As many as 25 Republicans said they would follow his lead. 

Whether or not the government shuts down, Vice President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have assured citizens that the online health insurance marketplaces at the heart of President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would be open for business today. "Shutdown or no shutdown, we're ready to go to start enrolling people tomorrow," Sebelius said Monday. 

As a 24-year-old young woman who just recently moved back to the United States, I find this whole fight over Obamacare silly and unnecessary. I spent 18 months teaching English in South Korea and moved back to New York City in April of this year. I was one of the lucky ones who managed to find a good paying job with health insurance within a few months of my return. However, I am the exception to the rule. The unemployment rate for 16-24 year-olds is “more than twice the unemployment rate for people of all ages,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Young adults ages 20 to 24 account for 12.5% of unemployment and those 25 to 29 account for another 7.8%. Now, if it weren’t for Obamacare’s provision allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they are 26, what would we do? For those whose parents also don’t have insurance, 82% of the 16 million uninsured young adults in this country can apply for cost assistance or Medicaid. 

As a woman, I appreciate Obamacare’s coverage for women’s preventative care including breast and cervical cancer screenings, contraception, sexually transmitted infections testing and counseling, and other services that must be covered by all marketplace health plans without charging a copayment or coinsurance.

Preventative care, in general, is one of the most appealing aspects of the Affordable Care Act. Now, I did not hit the genetic lottery. I am like many Americans and have several pre-existing conditions in my family such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. So I need to be checked out, and checked out often. According to the Winston-Salem Journai, “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 71 million Americans received expanded coverage of one or more preventive services in 2011 and 2012,” all because of Obamacare. If I were to lose my job tomorrow, it’s nice to know I wouldn’t be denied coverage because of the pre-existing health conditions in my family.

The Affordable Care Act has many elements that really just represent peace of mind. The plan isn’t perfect, but I think it’s safe to say that it would have been impossible to reach any kind of agreement all our congressmen and women would have agreed on. But it is nice to know that if I decide to become pregnant, all health insurance marketplace plans have to cover my pregnancy and childbirth, or if I want to keep my private health insurance, I don’t have to switch to anything else. If we do not educate each other about the real provisions of Obamacare, then maybe a government shutdown is exactly what we deserve.

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Melanie Breault

Melanie Breault just returned from teaching English in Seoul, South Korea. She now works for a women's nonprofit in Downtown NYC. She earned her bachelor's degree in economic and political journalism from Ithaca College in upstate New York. She likes to tackle issues facing marginalized workers and struggling students in her free time.

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