How Obamacare and Medicaid Save My Life Every Day

Feb 23, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. ET
Image: Getty Images

Since Trump won the presidential election, I’ve been up to my eyeballs with stress over health care.

Our new president and Republican senators have expressed their desire countless times to repeal the Affordable Care Act and make cuts on Medicaid without coming up with an adequate replacement. As a chronically ill and mentally ill trans person, this terrifies me.

More: There's nothing like pregnancy to make losing health insurance terrifying

Thanks to Obamacare, I can stay on my parents’ insurance until I’m 26 (for another four years). This is essential to me as my disabilities have limited me regarding employment, and therefore I’m unable to pay for my own medical insurance. Insurance that pays for my heart medication, meant to treat a condition I acquired from a chronic infection. Insurance that pays for my psychoactive drugs that allow me to sleep and function normally by suppressing my bipolar symptoms. Insurance that will pay for my testosterone and gender-affirming procedures (if I rally hard enough for the latter).

When I suffered a breakdown last year, the outpatient facility (called Access: Supports For Living) I admitted myself to put my life back on track. To this day, I spend five hours a day there three times a week. Every day spent there, I get stronger and more balanced. But if cuts are made to Medicaid, the agency that fueled this state-run program, my place of healing, will literally disappear. Countless times, my friends and I have expressed our anxiety over the facility shutting down. From much more functional folks like me to people with unmanageable personality disorders who’ve been in and out of prison, this place represents safety, understanding and new beginnings. But now, we fear that’s all in jeopardy.

More: A roundup of all the ways your health rights have been jeopardized this week

Without the Affordable Care Act, I won’t be able to be a functional member of society like I am now. I wouldn’t be able to pay for my medication and live my best life by working and going to school for social work. If I can’t work, then I can’t afford to buy the drugs that help me stay healthy. And with all my current ailments to deal with, I could never dream of being who I want to be, a person I can only live as if I transition. Medical bills for my heart and mental conditions would be too high for me to pay for anything “extra.”

Though Obamacare has its faults, it has helped so many folks like me find recovery and stay healthy. And when Republicans have no idea about a replacement and are seriously considering repealing the ACA without said replacement, it gives sick people like me enormous anxiety. Because before Trump, I truly took advantage of the fact that psychiatric drugs and treatment centers are so readily available to me. I took advantage of the fact that I could stay on my parents’ health insurance while I’m in school and don’t have to worry about working on top of it. I took advantage of the idea that there was a concrete future for me as a man with gender-affirming procedures.

More: Last night’s Senate Obamacare repeal vote was terrible for women

For many cis, neurotypical and/or able-bodied folks, it’s even easier to take advantage of the privilege health insurance affords you. Your faith is probably shaken, like mine. But remember all of the disabled and neurodivergent people during this time and how ACA’s repeal can and will mean death for many. Think of us and fight for our lives.

By Meg Zulch

Originally published on HelloFlo.