Last week, President Trump passed a terrifying bill that will mean tragedy for people all over the country. The American Health Care Act (or Trumpcare) not only repeals the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act starting January 2018, but it’s basically the opposite of Obamacare in every way. Trump claims this new healthcare system will be more affordable, but there’s a catch; the “higher risk” you are, the more you pay.
This means that those with chronic and terminal illnesses, mental disorders, and even allergies will have significantly higher insurance to pay in return for health care. The options for health care are also now more limited than when the country had Obamacare, and it’s obvious that the government doesn’t care at all.
It also means that sexual assault survivors, domestic abuse survivors, those who are pregnant, and anyone who has abnormal periods, will suffer the consequences. So what does this mean for people with these pre-existing conditions? Well, it depends on the condition, so let’s start with sexual assault and domestic abuse.
On top of the fact that survivors could see their insurance rates sky-rocket in price, there’s also an even bigger risk of their claims being outright denied. It’s difficult enough enough to seek help for sexual assault in the first place, since so many survivors are intimated into staying quiet about their trauma, so there is a risk of survivors feeling even less willing to contact medical and police staff about the crime. So to go through having to re-live that trauma, only to have to pay more for treatment or be denied? Many may not feel like it’s worth it, especially if they suffer from PTSD. And even if they do come forward, the number of people who will be denied coverage for their medical bills will surely decrease, considering now that it’s actually legal to do so. It was illegal to turn survivors away under Obamacare, but now it’s under the discretion of the insurer.
Heavy periods are also deemed a pre-existing condition, which isn’t surprising seeing as men in power love to pull the “but you get them every month” card. We’ve talked about tampon tax, and the stigma behind periods in general, but now the government wants cervix owners the right to affordable treatment if their periods are abnormal. These abnormalities (blood spotting, menstrual cramps that are above healthy pain levels, irregular bleeding, discoloured blood, cessation of bleeding altogether, and so on) are often symptoms of cancerous illnesses and infections, so it can be a serious problem.
And finally, pregnancy. Having a child in the United States is a horribly expensive task, and I’m not even talking about college funds or helping them pay for their first apartment away from home. I’m not even talking about the high cost of paying for their food, clothes, activities or even their own healthcare. Giving birth to the child(ren) in the first place is already a very costly matter; securing a hospital room, paying for anaesthetic and painkillers, getting a C-section, any medication you or the baby needs after labour for post-partum problems, the list is endless and very expensive.
So for Trumpcare to turn around and bump up the prices for pre and post-partum services after all of that, is an enormous slap in the face. And if you think it’s difficult for a nuclear family to afford, then just think about the 16 year old homeless girl who can’t even afford the cab ride to the hospital. Does Trump think she considers it a “pre-existing condition”?
Typically, these four “pre-existing conditions” tend to affect mostly women (as well as non binary folk, transfolk, and intersex folk). And this suspicion rises when you consider the idea that Trump does not consider erectile dysfunction a pre-existing condition, a condition that affects mostly cis-men. So it’s clear that these choices are direct attack on women.
In terms of sexual assault and domestic abuse, I’m well aware that cismen can also be affected, but bigots like Trump don’t believe men can be victims of sexual abuse. So in a way he’s attacking his own followers, and I can only imagine how much more difficult it will be for men not only to seek help in the first place, but also have their claims accepted despite assault survivor stereotypes.
Sexism was a huge driving force behind the classification of pre-existing conditions, and now that the plans for the bill have been set in stone, more women will suffer than anyone else.
A lot of people have spoken up on the news, and they’re justifiably very angry.
#trumpcare makes rape a pre-existing condition. A sexually assaulted woman will have to risk her health insurance reporting her rapist.
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) May 5, 2017
Needless to say this would not have happened under the presidency of Clinton…
A shameful failure of policy & morality by GOP today. Fight back on behalf of the millions of families that will be hurt by their actions: https://t.co/yPy2ZW74mw
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 4, 2017
The Republican “health care” bill is a disaster. It has nothing to do with health care and everything to do with tax breaks for the wealthy.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 4, 2017
Politicians, patients, and activists are mortified at how much of former president Obama’s healthcare work has now been washed down the drain, as if the last eight years were for nothing. Even Trump voters have shown regret, and they too will be affected by the consequences of this terrible Act.
What you have to keep in mind about the premium rates rise is not simply that the patients will lose money, but that they may not even have that money in the first place. A whopping 43.1 million Americans live in poverty, so that’s a hell of a lot of money that cannot be spent on insurance. Insurance doesn’t mean your services are magically paid for, it means paying monthly or annual lump sums that come straight out of your own pocket.
The impoverished cannot magically crap out this extra money for something that Obamacare was already helping them to secure. They cannot be blamed for being female, mentally ill, disabled, or prone to infection and be forced to pay more than the male, able bodied, and neurotypical.
Even those who don’t have pre-existing conditions at the moment may end up paying more if their health fails them in the future. So Trumpcare’s promise of affordability will only be true for those who maintain perfect health. So really, the only people who stand to gain from this are the rich, healthy, and forever able bodied.
This sexist, ableist, and classist healthcare Act will have a negative impact on the health of a lot of people, and at worst? It may literally kill them.