Much to the chagrin of many Americans and people across the globe, President Donald Trump has steadfastly maintained his campaign promises during his first days in office. He signed seven executive orders during his first week as president, many of them systematically checking off promises he made along the campaign trail.
One of Trump and the GOP’s largest goals has been to repeal the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as “Obamacare.” One of the capstones of Obama’s presidency, the ACA was a massive reform of the American health-care system that made health insurance and medical care more accessible to the public. Some of the key elements of the ACA are disallowing insurance companies from turning away patients because of pre-existing conditions and also by allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26. However, Trump recently signed an executive order that would repeal the ACA, but there is no immediate replacement. That puts many people who rely on it for their medical care at risk.
The ACA is a stepping stone toward equal coverage for all Americans. Prior to the ACA, insurance companies were allowed to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, or limit financial coverage to those who became ill while covered. Prior to the ACA, insurance companies’ blinding greed for profit caused them to lose any sense of a moral compass. Now that Trump and the GOP want to repeal the ACA, many fear that without a proper replacement, the American health care system will return to this dangerous stage of prioritizing profit over the health of our country.
This fear hits scarily close to home for many people, including myself. My father personally benefitted from the ACA. Diagnosed with stage four stomach and esophageal cancer in April of last year, he switched insurance plans so that he could move from San Francisco to Seattle in search of specialist care. Without the promise of being covered despite his serious illness, he would not have been able to get the medical treatment from experts who helped keep him alive for as long as possible.
Unfortunately, my dad passed away last December. However, he would not have lived as long as he did if he did not get the proper treatment, which he could not have received on his previous insurance plan, nor afforded without insurance.
I am not alone in my family’s experience of the ACA helping them stay healthy. American families rely on their insurance to catch them when they fall. If the ACA were to be repealed, the rug would be swiftly and cruelly ripped out from beneath them when times get tough.
There is no circumstance under which insurance companies should feel comfortable turning away desperate and ill patients just because they would threaten their balance sheet. Health care is an industry that should focus on the wellbeing of the American people, not on the annual reports and profit margins of health care providers. However, it has been proven that to ensure a sense of moral decency in the health care system, government agencies need to steadfastly enforce rules to make sure that people can get coverage even if they are ill.
While Trump has been vague with his future plans to repeal and replace the ACA, I hope that he takes into consideration the weight of his actions. Lives are literally in the balance; families and communities should not need to fear the financial burden of their illness when they are already fighting for their lives.
Samantha is a sophomore majoring journalism and communication arts. Are you personally affected by the developments regarding healthcare? Please send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.