Entitlement programs aren’t what you read about on Facebook

Kourtney Husnick

In the current political climate, it seems as though so-called “entitlement programs” are always being discussed and targeted.

However, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and other welfare programs are not as bad as we’re often told. They also don’t quite function the way we commonly hear about them either.

For example, Social Security and Medicare are two programs we specifically pay into with every paycheck we earn. It isn’t really an entitlement when you’ve paid for it.

As far as food stamps are concerned, the stories of steak and lobster dinners are largely myths. There was a time when my family of six needed food stamps after my father almost died in an accident at work. We lost our only source of income for several months, so food stamps paid for my morning cereal while my parents’ minimal savings went toward necessary toiletries and filling the car with gas.

Like most families receiving food stamps, it was not a luxurious situation for us. We were struggling, and food stamps ensured that we still had access to fresh fruits and vegetables until we got back on our feet.

Not long after my father’s accident, we got healthcare through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The program was new, and my family had no idea what to expect when we applied.

The Medicaid expansion is not what people tend to say it is. It’s much better, and it should be universal.

Yes, this will make taxes go up. That is one of the consistent complaints opposing arguments tend to bring up. What is generally ignored, however, is that the cost of health insurance, co-pays and medical bills would disappear.

The average person’s expenses for healthcare would still decrease, even factoring in a raise in taxes. The all-too-frequent problem of people going into extensive debt after a cancer diagnosis would also disappear.

People should not have to turn their lives into an episode of “Breaking Bad” to pay for a hospital visit, and no one should be afraid to call an ambulance in an emergency because the cost is too high. It isn’t practical, which is why the United States is the only very highly developed country without universal healthcare.

Another common complaint about universal healthcare is that someone might not want healthcare. It takes away the choice, but it also keeps people financially safe in case of an emergency.

I never expected to need glasses as a child, but Medicaid covered my prescription when reading gave me headaches in school. I did not anticipate needing to go to the emergency room two weeks ago, but Medicaid covered that trip, my antibiotics and the follow-up appointments I have had to make since then.

Throughout my life, I have been able to count on my medical needs being taken care of without fail. I could not imagine having bills to pay on top of the pain and stress this one situation has caused, and knowing what being a Medicaid recipient is really like reinforces my belief that everyone should be covered.

Healthcare, like so many other “entitlement programs,” is not a luxury. It is necessary for survival, and it is common sense to make it available to everyone without simultaneously ruining the life that’s being saved.

If a doctor saving your life buries you in so much debt that you will struggle to find peace of mind again, the point begins to disappear. We see this in the ever-frequent cases where people choose to die rather than ruin their families financially because treatment becomes that much of a financial burden.

It’s time to accept the Affordable Care Act for what it is — a step in the right direction. Obamacare, as it’s so often called, started us on the right track toward catching up with the rest of the modern world. So for my healthcare, my family’s healthcare and the healthcare of every other lower class American receiving benefits from the Medicaid expansion under the ACA, thanks, Obama.

 

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