Obamacare is for people like me

By Shelby Harrell Staff Writer | Mar 14, 2014

As a reporter, I always strive to keep to the facts and remain objective when it comes to political issues. So when President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, I kept an open mind about it.

Even though opinions were flying about Obamacare, I decided not to join in the controversy and opted to just learn the facts and keep my opinions to myself — but that was until I had something meaningful to say about it.

Obamacare was created for people like me. I feel compelled to say that because I'm one of the thousands of people who will greatly benefit from this health care reform — and when I say "benefit," I mean my health is no longer going to be a gamble. I no longer have to opt for home remedies to try avoid the triple digit fees from Urgent Care — for the first time since I've been an independent adult, I can finally say "I, Shelby Harrell, have health insurance coverage."

This is a big deal.

One thing they don't tell you in college is the fact that you will be liable for your own health as soon as you walk across that graduation stage. During college, I was covered by a health plan through my university. After graduating, my parents weren't able to add me to their plans so I knew my health care rested on my shoulders when I took on the first job of my career — and wouldn't you know, my first job didn't include any health benefits.

When I looked into the health insurance plans (before Obamacare), there was nothing there for me. No plans came anywhere near my budget (which was rather limited) so I just avoided the idea of coverage altogether. I told myself that I would take vitamins and be extra careful not to get hurt.

But after a while, I began to feel like health insurance was a looming spirit haunting me. Deep down in my gut I was scared that something bad would happen, but there was really nothing I could do about it. I was unmarried, with a very limited salary so I basically had to accept the fact that health insurance was simply a luxury I could not afford. And that's what I did.

The first two years of my adult life consisted of seasonal stomach bugs, several head colds, multiple infections and chronic allergies. My co-workers were always giving me that grossed out look because they knew I  couldn't see a doctor and was spreading germs. But what could I do about it? I could only try to get better on my own without medical help, which translated to: I was miserable.

Fast forward to present day— I'm almost 26 — and up until last week, I had absolutely no healthcare coverage and had to pay for all medical treatments out of pocket. But now that insurance is required by law, and since open enrollment is closing soon (ends March 31), I finally made myself visit healthcare.gov (Health Insurance Marketplace) to find a plan. I was pleasantly surprised. The heavy healthcare burden I had been carrying around for years was lifted once I saw that I qualified for a substantial subsidy, and that the government would pay for a large portion of my insurance premiums. Apparently, living on my own with a beginner's salary and no children was a good thing...or at least meant that healthcare would be available to me at a low cost. Who knew?

Affordable doctor visits, specialist visits, prescription drug coverage, medical management programs, hospital services and medial providers in my area that accept my plan...all for a very low premium after applying my full subsidy credit. It was like a healthcare holiday! I never knew I would be so excited to have a healthcare plan, but it was seriously an enormous weight off of my shoulders once I realized I had options to fall back on — if I got the flu or if I needed some antibiotics I wouldn't have to forfeit my other living expenses. After hearing a lot of the negative things about Obamacare, it was truly a reality check for me once I found out the healthcare reform was intended to help me, and people like me.

Not everyone may have benefitted from this healthcare reform, but I bet there are lots of people out there like me who are college graduates just starting their careers without children or a spouse, and for the first time ever, some of us are able to afford health insurance.

It's easy to sit back and criticize everything that's going on in the world, but sometimes, you take a closer look. You don't have to support the cause, but at least recognize that people are being helped and this change is making a difference.

I encourage all of you who need coverage to visit healthcare.gov and see what kind of coverage you qualify for — you might just be surprised what kind of subsidy you may get. And for all of you guys out there who already have coverage in your price range, be thankful for it. Don't take it for granted; there are other people out there who have to live without it, and trust me that's no fun.

Comments (9)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | Mar 14, 2014 18:41

"It's easy to sit back and criticize everything that's going on in the world, but sometimes, you take a closer look. You don't have to support the cause, but at least recognize that people are being helped and this change is making a difference." -- Yes.  It takes little effort to criticize.  I'm in the camp that doesn't support the cause.  But I HOPE that this awful legislation has enormous value and benefit because it comes at great cost to us, the working people who are NOT subsidized.  Those that are NOT subsidized are paying "extra" to help others afford healthcare.  When I give up a percentage of my paycheck for my healthcare and then donate another percentage of my paycheck for someone else's healthcare, I all of a sudden become interested in what the recipient of my generosity does with their money.  Are they buying Coke, steak, cable TV, new car payments, and cigarettes while I make the determination that I cannot afford them because I'm donating a greater portion of my paycheck to their healthcare?


Yes, I do enjoy hearing that someone appreciates the healthcare system as it's being enacted.  And since you, Shelby Harrell, receive a subsidy from our public funds to help pay for your healthcare, I'll hope you recognize the taxpayer sacrifice that makes that possible.  I'm giving up a steak dinner tonight for some yummy hot dogs.


Posted by: Allen Alsbrooks | Mar 15, 2014 09:00

Not once did the writer thank the tax paying Americans who are paying for the subsidies which allow her to enjoy the "substantial subsidy."

Posted by: Joe Vescovi | Mar 15, 2014 09:22

And I am giving up a steak dinner for all the tax breaks the corporations (ie: Verizon, GE, Boeing etc.) get so they can make billions in profits and pay no taxes.  Or to the rich who because of their capital gains, are taxed  less than the common worker.

Nothing is always "fair" in a democracy but at least recognize the inequality in who has benefited the most these past few decades.  Just look at the discrepancy in how well the top 10% of the population has prospered because of the tax code while the rest of the population has stagnated.  And, oh yes, those at the bottom do work hard and would like an equal chance of improving their livelihood. A little help so they can afford health insurance is not too much to ask.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Mar 15, 2014 12:28

"those at the bottom do work hard and would like an equal chance of improving their livelihood." -- A Republican (that is true to what Republicans are SUPPOSED to stand for) would say that you should not be incrementally penalized as you improve your livelihood.  Republicans would cheer you on finding a way to be more valuable to society and earning more money as a result.  Republicans will not take more of your money away as you start to realize success in earning more.  I think an unintended consequence of a Democrat strategy of government providing more for lower class citizens is that the more assistance that is provided, the more satisfied low-class citizens are to stay that way and NOT improve their livelihood.


"Or to the rich who because of their capital gains, are taxed  less than the common worker." -- "Capital gains" means the profit from something you sell.  If you buy a collector Mustang car for $5,000 and then sell it for $6,000, you would owe "capital gains tax" on that $1,000.  You bought that car with your already-taxed income.  You took a risk that you got a good deal.  You might have put some effort into restoring it.  And when you sell it, the IRS wants a cut -- on top of the cut they already took from the money you made to earn the original $5,000.  If it's stock that you speak of, if you buy $5,000 of stock, the company that you bought uses that money and pays taxes on whatever profit it makes.  If the value of the company goes up as a result, you benefit from an increased value of the stock.  So would you suggest on top of the taxes the company made, you also need to pay tax as the "lender" to the company in the form of capital gains when you sell the stock?  The more you want to tax people who invest in companies, the less people will want to invest in companies.  See how that's NOT good for America?


I will agree that ALL people and ALL businesses ought to pay an equal burden of taxes.  No loopholes, no favors, no exceptions.  Obamacare is just another way to loophole some people into a benefit at the expense of others.


You know, Verizon and GE are two companies that pay my employer for what I do for a living.  Although I don't support loopholes and tax breaks for some, I do appreciate having an income (that I pay tax) that is at least in part possible from the business that Verizon and GE give my employer.  I promise, I'll spend at least part of my income in local businesses and the subscription to this wonderful publication.  And come spring, I'll be surfing Craigslist to find someone to help me with a few jobs around the house in exchange for even more of my paycheck.


"A little help so they can afford health insurance is not too much to ask." -- Taxpayers already provide to low-income people: food stamps, housing assistance, education, cell phones, retirement and disability payments, and yes, emergency medicine upon demand (pre-Obamacare).  In reality, each benefit results in low-class citizens being less motivated to improve their livelihood.  That's not good for America.


Mr. Vescovi, if you viewed government as a fair system in which to maximize your potential rather than a tool to harm those of whom you are envious, I think you'll go far in life and have lots to appreciate.


PS -- After writing my original opinion, I should make it clear that I find no fault from Ms. Harrell taking advantage of this new government program.  The fault lies with the government officials who made this law.

Posted by: Bruce and Carole Larivee | Mar 16, 2014 12:46

All of us who buy health insurance are subsidizing those who can’t afford to buy health insurance or pay health care providers.  These are the desperate people whose last resort is the hospital emergency room.  Hospitals must increase their prices to cover costs for indigent care.  Since insurance companies must pay hospitals more, they increase our premiums and copays.  This has been going on decades before health care reform was even discussed.  Honest people will admit that our health insurance premiums, deductibles, and copays have been increasing for decades.  This is nothing new.

The Affordable Care Act tried to address this problem by reducing the number of uninsured people.  It is undisputed that preventative care is less expensive than emergency care.  Those with chronic problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems can be monitored and treated before they show up in emergency rooms with limbs which require amputation, strokes, and heart attacks.  Savings from unreimbursed emergency care should, over time, reduce insurance premiums for all of us.  Unfortunately, all of these savings will not be realized in North Carolina since the state refused to expand Medicaid for the poorest among us.

Carole Larivee

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Mar 16, 2014 16:48

Mrs Larivee:


I can tell your comments are made with integrity.  Trying to respond accordingly, I do acknowledge the pre-Obamacare problem of indigent care was just that: a problem as was rising costs.  And it was made worse in some areas of the country with illegal aliens taking advantage of the system.  Someone should have fixed it -- But so far Obamacare has not and if it does, I'll suggest there was a better way to fix it.


Don't look at "healthcare" as a "system" or an impersonal service.  It's a doctor who made sacrifices and great cost to earn an MD degree.  It's a hospital who built a facility to provide a service while hoping to get a return on investment.  It's a pharmaceutical company spending years of investor funds to come up with a drug that can be sold and return those investor funds with interest.  Nobody has a "right" to take those products and services for free.  What the government is doing is trying to make everyone pay for anyone's use of those resources with little or no cost to the "consumer".  When that happens, those with subsidized care aren't motivated by increased costs to stay thin, eat healthy, and exercise.  They get free or almost free healthcare no matter what they do with their health.  And if someone does get a cold, a trip to the doctor costs them $10 while the taxpayer chips in $120 -- and the diagnosis is to take two aspirin and get some rest.  This just makes it easier for more people to visit the doctor more often without having to worry about cost.  (But we that pay their costs worry about it.)


There were and still are legitimate problems with our healthcare system.  Socialization of the system will not make things better.  People will still die of cancer.  If they can be kept alive for an extra week or year used to be a matter of "how much can you afford if you want to afford it at all".  Now how is that decision made?  It's kind of scary when you think about that answer.


The homeless guy and the illegal alien will still visit the emergency room and not have insurance.  It remains to be seen how many others continue to do the same.  Costs have still increased.  People still have chronic illnesses.  These are all problems that still need fixing.  I just wish we were all smart enough to fix them without putting that burden on me.  Can't we require that people who consume more healthcare have to pay more?  Can't we require that before you come at MY paycheck you give up things like your own new car payment, your steak dinner, and other things I already do without?  I want to feel good about helping my fellow man -- voluntarily.  Sometimes taking stuff away from someone is the best way to motivate them to be a productive member of society.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Mar 18, 2014 09:02

            As OUR Founders clearly established "All persons" means all persons, regardless of citizenship status.

            Most undocumented "persons" pay into OUR Social Security fund with no hope of ever gaining any benefits.

            Most certainly "Obama-care" levels the playing field by requiring those benefitting/profiting from Liberty to pay in proportion to what they gain, which results in income redistribution, as should all tax laws.

            Everyone owning a vehicle is required to pay for the uninsured motorist. Same principle applies to Obama-care.

            When any "person" applies for any govt. assistance, they are required to honestly provide details as to their income, etc. HOWEVER! It is the duty of We the people to equally protect their assumption of innocence. We may not take away anything from any qualified "person" just for needing OUR assistance, while requiring those better-off to foot the bill. This is one of the costs of Liberty.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Mar 18, 2014 09:17

"Most undocumented "persons" pay into OUR Social Security fund" -- False


"more than half of the country's illegal immigrants work in the "underground economy," meaning that they are paid cash under the table, without paying any kind of taxes."


Ref: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/illegal-immigrants-cost-us-100-billion-year-group/story?id=10699317


"Everyone owning a vehicle is required to pay for the uninsured motorist." -- False.


Owning a vehicle does not require insurance of any kind.  Operating a vehicle on public roads does not require uninsured motorist coverage.  (Although I do elect to carry this optional coverage on my policy.)


Ref: http://www.legal-nc.com/uninsured-underinsured-north-carolina.html


"needing OUR assistance" -- This is the error in your argument.  "Need" is a subjective concept.  People don't "NEED" food stamps when they spend their money on cigarettes.  People don't "NEED" Section 8 housing when they spend their money on Cable TV.  People don't "NEED" disability checks when they are able-bodied.  People don't "NEED" free or subsidized healthcare that have little regard for their health in the first place.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Mar 18, 2014 10:47

             "All persons" pay taxes. Whether usage, income, or to support Social programs.

             As has been quite well documented, there has been a large amount of contribution to OUR social programs by with-holding taxes contributed by non-documented workers, with no means of ever gaining anything whatsoever.

              Registering a vehicle for use on the public highways most certainly requires a minimum amount of insurance. Indiana required uninsured insurance. North Carolina's requirement under liability is too lenient.

             Again, as "All persons" must qualify whereby their "subjective needs" are met, to receive any assistance from US while retaining their inalienable rights, including the assumption of innocence, it is assumed that they are not lieing nor mis-using funds. What they choose to do with any cash left over or acquired from minor work is none of anyone's business.



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