If you haven’t already, you’ll soon be seeing this Jezebel piece: “Woman Who Attacked ObamaCare Apologizes After Breast Cancer Diagnosis.” Schadenfreude makes good copy, even if the title is a bit off.
“ObamaCare” should really read “Obama.” She just didn’t think he was doing enough for the middle class, so she got all disillusioned and bitter and…blah. She defaced her “Hope” bumper sticker. Her and Obama? They’re good now, though. She’s gonna get a new bumper sticker.
But that’s not what I want to talk about. You see, all the stuff about being disappointed in Obama for a little while–that all happens at the end of the letter. The first half is stuff like this:
I found out three weeks ago I have cancer. I’m 49 years old, have been married for almost 20 years and have two kids. My husband has his own small computer business, and I run a small nonprofit in the San Fernando Valley. I am also an artist. Money is tight, and we don’t spend it frivolously. We’re just ordinary, middle-class people, making an honest living, raising great kids and participating in our community, the kids’ schools and church.
We’re good people, and we work hard. But we haven’t been able to afford health insurance for more than two years. And now I have third-stage breast cancer and am facing months of expensive treatment.
Although there have been a few people who judged us harshly, most people have been understanding about how this could happen to us. That’s given me the courage to “out” myself and my family in hopes that it will educate people who are still lucky enough to have health insurance and view people like my family as irresponsible. We’re not. What I want people to understand is that, if this could happen to us, it could happen to anybody.
Stomp on it. Kill it. Burn it with fire. And by “it,” I mean this middle class pretension of virtue. “Oh. Woe is me! I have done everything right, and I am still not rewarded with the keys to the castle!”
If you are fortunate enough to still be employed and have insurance through your employers, you may feel insulated from the sufferings of people like me right now. But things can change abruptly. If you still have a good job with insurance, that doesn’t mean that you’re better than me, more deserving than me or smarter than me. It just means that you are luckier. And access to healthcare shouldn’t depend on luck.
Hey, you know what? It shouldn’t depend on having gotten a good enough roll of the dice early in life to have been able to call yourself “good people” who “work hard” either. Or to have been born to parents who can. “It can happen to anybody” means it has been happening, to more people than you’ve ever stopped to consider.
And if you didn’t know what Obamacare did, it’s because all that participation was narrowly focused on your own community and school and church and didn’t bother to look beyond those like you. The preexisting condition provisions were one of the most important and lauded features of the bill. Let my friend Beatrix tell you how important they were, in this video from two years ago, before the bill passed:
So if you want to tell me how virtuous you are, and how undeserving of having been scared about lacking insurance, don’t tell me how you’ve done everything that people tell you should get you rewarded. Don’t tell me how you’ve met all the expectations for the promises that have always been meant to keep you from asking for more for us all.
Tell me instead that you paid attention to something as large and important as health care reform. Tell me you took the time to understand things you never thought could affect you. Tell me you were a good citizen, if you’re looking for my sympathy.
Or just skip the bit where you try to make yourself look deserving. Just tell me you have breast cancer and need help. That should be all you or anyone needs.