In a recent Miami Hurricane Q&A, President Donna E. Shalala did an excellent job explaining to us students how we would be affected by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.”
I still feel, though, that a lot of students don’t grasp the fundamental importance of Obamacare to a prosperous nation and a happy people.
It is important for us to consider this because Obamacare works by basically taking three classifications of people who could very easily be described as Hurricanes – the young, the healthy and the rich – and having them buy insurance to subsidize the old, the sick and the poor.
To be perfectly clear, Obamacare is a step toward a fundamental change in the role of the federal government. And it is a positive one.
In the wealthiest nation on Earth, it was shameful that health insurance was a plague that penuriously bankrupted families, tore apart lives, and refused healing to the sick and needy.
In August 2009, at the height of the congressional debate on the matter, President Obama came before the country and paraphrased scripture, explaining that it is our duty to “look out for one another” because, in his words, “I am my brother’s keeper, and I am my sister’s keeper.”
But in a sense, we young, rich and healthy, shouldn’t just see this as doing some service for the benefit of others. Because our government works for all of the people, and because no one goes through life without struggle, it is important to remember that there will come a day when we will be grateful for the help of fellow citizens in dealing with our health insurance.
This is already the case when we thank our servicemen and women for protecting our freedom, or when senior citizens (whom we will all be one day) can buy food with social security checks.
I personally am a reasonably healthy person, with regular exercise, a balanced diet and no serious destructive vices. But even still, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 12, and until Obamacare was passed, a conscious or subconscious fear of healthcare costs had driven a lot of my life and career choices. I knew that I would need to pay through the roof for insurance because the alternative was a lost limb or worse.
For me, as one day it can be for you, Obamacare is about Americans coming together to fix a literal life and death issue. I hope that when you consider the information about this contentious issue, you keep that in mind.
Patrick Quinlan is a sophomore majoring in international studies and political science.