By Nico Morgan
Crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe were originally designed to help entrepreneurs, artists, and dreamers finance their goals. Whether that was to market a new invention, to seek help buying a new laptop to make a living, or requesting gas money to make it home for the holidays, crowdfunding only flourished in a small, niche audience.
With the rise and fears of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), and the subsequent Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) however, crowdfunding has taken on a much, much more ominous — and crucial — role for the American people. With Obamacare, more and more disabilities, accidents, and pre-existing conditions were covered, meaning more people were able to go to and afford proper medical treatment. Women’s preventative healthcare was more available, including accessible birth control and other services offered by institutions such as Planned Parenthood.
The BCRA in particular punishes women for being women. Because of their deep hatred for any sort of nuanced conversation about abortion or willingness to work with Democrats to fund preventative measures, low-income women in particular will suffer due to the threat of cuts to medicaid, which is what clinics like Planned Parenthood rely on (except for abortion services due to the Hyde Amendment already making it illegal).
But, with its repeal and replacement, people now fear for not only their own lives, but the lives of their family and friends. Without a hope for medical insurance to help buffer the costs, many are turning to the same crowdfunding websites to fund their medical expenses — and ideally, save their own lives.
Similar to countries such as Canada, the US doesn’t tax their citizens’ crowdfunding efforts, particularly when they’re considered charitable — but you typically won’t find citizens in other countries with universal healthcare needing crowdfunding to pay for medical costs in the first place. In fact, when compared to the other developed countries of the world, the US is the only one who hasn’t implemented universal healthcare, though Obamacare was a step in the right direction.
With the AHCA predicted to leave 23 million US citizens uninsured (as scored by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office) and the BCRA reportedly doing the same to 22 million, chances are medical crowdfunding is only going to become more common, lest more people forgo treatment at all, or are forced to declare bankruptcy because medical costs are just too high to handle.
For low-income families that may need expensive medical intervention and procedures, with the potential of any Republican healthcare bill passing, the thought of never having enough money to cover their lives is unnerving. Particularly since AHCA & BCRA will reportedly also be reinstating “lifetime caps” on insurance, it leaves some already high and dry. Not only does declaring bankruptcy absolutely devastate a person already dealing with financial issues, but depending on the level you’re actually able to declare, you may end up still having to pay back the bills, anyway. When medical bills are already the cause of most US bankruptcies, even with the implementation of Obamacare in 2010, the thought of the financial burden on lower-income families is terrifying.
Despite this, Republicans still claim their bill will be “better for the American people,” that Obamacare was “an economic disaster,” while scolding anyone who claims to have fears about the new health care plan by claiming the pettiest of things like “you can afford the newest smartphone, but not health care?” or “you eat avocado toast every morning, it’s no wonder you can’t afford a house.”
Where are the public administrators whose jobs revolve solely around the healthcare of the American people? As government employees meant to be the middleman, the balance between federal and state control over health and the overall well being of the people of this country, why is more effort not being put into rescuing their constituents from this death sentence of a healthcare bill?
Perhaps it’s actually no surprise at all, seeing as the wealthiest Americans can expect a massive tax break with the implementation of this new bill, and by this point, everyone knows money speaks the loudest. To be more precise, “An $883 billion tax cut, $274 billion of it going to the richest 2%. $880 billion stripped from Medicaid. And 24 million fewer insured individuals over the next ten years.”
The fact that your everyday American citizen has to crowdfund for their lives is an absolute national embarrassment. It’s no wonder the United States has lost so much of its zeal over the years, its international respect, not to mention the faith and compassion of its citizens. And, with Trump in office, international and allied relationships have only become more strained in just his short five months in office, and day by day, more allies begin to turn away.
As a recent college graduate still relying on her parents’ medical insurance, I am terrified. As someone who barely makes more money than the poverty line in this country, I’m terrified. As a woman, a member of the LGBTQ community, a friend, a sister, a daughter … I am terrified.
Luckily, I’m relatively healthy. Other than mental illness, which I’ve managed to cope with without intervention for a decade anyway, I don’t have any recurring physical disabilities that require constant attention and intervention. For those people that do — for infants who, under AHCA or BCRA, will reach their lifetime insurable limit within hours of being born, for transgender patients, for rape victims, for the 99 percent …
For parents who have to choose between cancer treatment, bankruptcy, and the lives of their children. For single mothers who have to choose between mental healthcare and fighting postpartum depression. For the people battling life-threatening disabilities and illnesses, those people who are purposefully ignored and forcefully removed from their constitutional right to protest, I am terrified.
And I am not alone. Every person reading these words right now probably agrees with me, no matter where on the spectrum of terror they may lie. Twitter is ablaze with anger, Facebook is swollen with pleas for help and change. People are taking to social media platforms in any way they can, people are calling their representatives to passionately disapprove of the bill.
With that alone, there is hope being ignited again in the world. Opposing parties, opposing neighbors with conflicting views and political desires are finally understanding one another and coming to the realization that the Republican healthcare proposal means no good for anyone who isn’t already rich. We’re starting to see more people understand that human rights are basic rights, whether Democrat or Republican. With a newly found flame of resistance, who’s to say these united people don’t have a chance to overcome something so devastating?
For a thorough breakdown of how to contact your representative, Refinery29 has compiled a step by step guide, including finding contact information, as well as a script to follow if you’re new to the process. Calling your reps and voicing your opinion doesn’t have to be a long political debate — in fact, it’s as simple as stating your opposition and nothing else. Here is a sample of what you could say:
“Hello, my name is Jane Smith. I’m a constituent from New York, zip code 10001. I don’t need a response. I am opposed to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and I strongly encourage the Senator to please oppose any type of repeal. Thank you for your hard work!” Works perfectly.
The Republican heath care bill (literally either of them, if they pass) will be a death sentence for the American people — the average American people. American people that have to beg for money online through crowdfunding sources, just to keep themselves and their loved ones alive. The lower and middle classes, the hard-workers, the freelancers, the dreamers. This should not be happening in the richest, most powerful country on earth today. If you’re not as scared as the rest of us, perhaps you’re not paying close enough attention.
Nico Morgan is a freelance writer from Idaho, where she spends most of her time writing, drawing, and plaiting tiny braids into the fur of long-haired cats. You can find more of her daily one-liners on twitter, @holobun.