I never thought much about health insurance until the first time I got really sick during college. I had a roaring cough and spent the majority of that week in bed. It was pretty obvious to everyone I had bronchitis. My friends and the nurse told me I needed to see a doctor, but at the time I didn’t have health insurance. I had to wait out the virus for a few weeks and missed too many classes to count. I have heard stories of those denied medical services because of their non-existent health care, and I am baffled that in our nation we still struggle with providing every individual the means to a quality life.
Although my bronchitis was no extreme illness, it did require a prescription from a doctor. I cannot imagine going through pregnancy without proper health care or being denied a life-changing surgery because you cannot afford insurance. My small virus triggered something in me. It caused me to tune in more closely when I heard others discussing health insurance and the Affordable Care Act. As far as I knew, this act helped those in need of medical attention; I did not see the negatives I heard others speaking about. Most of those around me had horrible opinions of this act, and once I began receiving health insurance through the act, I was ashamed to tell a soul. I tried to justify my gift of free health insurance, but the more I heard others discuss its idiocy, the more mortified I became.
I think that’s the problem, though — shame. I felt ashamed because of a gift I received inside President Obama’s health care policy, while it was not perfect, it was a gift nonetheless. I felt the look of shame every time I handed over my Medicaid card to the receptionist. I overheard a friend say she hated Obamacare because it gave lazy people an easy way out. I told her, in a not-so-gracious manner, that if it were not for the Affordable Care Act, I would not be able to provide my own health care plan. She felt a little differently about the act after learning that. There are so many people that need this policy, and those very people could be some of your best friends. They could be your chapel buddies, classmates or anyone you interact with on a daily basis. Do they not deserve health insurance, even if they cannot afford it themselves? What have any of us done to deserve good health and genuine medical care? We were created and we simply are. That is all that merits care and health. We’re talking about more than medicine and procedures here; we are talking about living, breathing humans.
In light of Martin Luther King Jr. Day this Monday, I recall all he did to encourage freedom and liberation for our nation’s people, and I smile at the progress we have made. But in the same breath I realized just how far we have yet to come. Everyone is deserving of good health care, simply because we are all created by God. There should be no shame in the method of receiving that care.
Shame is handed out by entitlement, and the two make a deadly combination. As we venture into a new four-year presidential term, my hope is that there will be less of the two. Entitlement creates an atmosphere of shame, which leads to hate amongst people. Hate will not heal others; it will not create an atmosphere of change; and it certainly will not make America great again.