I’m a 19-year-old first time voter and I’m voting for health care this election.
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on Dec. 12th, 2003 when I was just 3 years old. My parents just had my little sister and also recently bought a house. My diagnosis changed our lives. We suddenly went from owning two cars to one, and my mother began to eat once a day from the dollar menu at McDonald’s. My parents made these sacrifices so they could afford to pay for my life-sustaining insulin.
My experience living with Type 1 diabetes has made me a healthcare voter at just 19.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is under attack without a backup plan, which is dangerous for people like me. We can’t go back to a time when insurance could discriminate against you for having a pre-existing condition.
When I was first diagnosed, I was not old enough to remember the tough stuff my family went through, and my parents were good at keeping their concerns about their medical bills away from me. They didn’t want me to feel that I was burdening them. My dad had a full-time job with insurance benefits, but they did not cover all of our medical expenses. Eventually, we found out that Michigan has a special Medicaid program for minors under the age of 21. Medicaid picks up what my insurance doesn’t. Now, if my insurance doesn’t cover the cost of my glucose test strips, I know I can still get them.
Years after my diagnosis, when the ACA passed, my family finally felt like we could take a breath, because we all knew I would be protected.
I fear that once I age out of my parents’ insurance, I won’t find healthcare coverage or be able to afford my insulin. Millions of Americans still can’t afford their insulin, and young people like me have died because of it. I don’t want to have to choose between my rent and a life-sustaining drug. And I don’t want to live in a country where people feel forced to cross the border to Canada to afford their prescription drugs.
Conservatives have long been determined to dismantle the ACA, and soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett has sided with two previous cases to overturn the ACA.
The newest case is slated to be heard before the Supreme Court next month. This could mean the end of pre-existing conditions protections, which means that once I turn 26, I could be punished by insurance companies for simply having Type 1 diabetes.
Our government needs to make health care accessible for all Americans, especially during a pandemic.
Why strip health care away right now? Over 215,000 Americas have died from COVID-19. I am at greater risk from the virus, and the last thing I want is to see the ACA dismantled.
Casting my first ballot this election feels significant for many reasons. Our country is at a crossroads, and it feels as if our democracy is in the balance. I’m excited that I can finally use my vote to defend the ACA and demand that health care be accessible for everyone in this country.
Many of us are exhausted by the political environment right now, but we must remain focused and, most importantly, make our voices heard.
My generation—Generation Z—wants to see real change. We want to feel secure in our future. We want to feel proud to be Americans, and we want our elected leaders to be working for us and not their wealthy friends and corporations.