ACA first step in the right direction

LuigiGhersi2_5 Colby Patterson
Luigi Ghersi

Luigi Ghersi

The open enrollment period for insurance from the Affordable Health Care Act will close March 31. As the period comes to an end, I find it fitting to reflect on the growth that came out of this act. President Barack Obama took an amazing and commendable leap forward with this act, ensuring that all citizens of the United States have insurance for whatever unexpected health complications may arise in their lives. This act ensured that being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition that increases the amount you pay, it extended the amount of time that kids can remain on their parents’ insurance, and it increased access to Medicare for the elderly. All of these steps made tremendous progress in protecting the right to basic health care.

However, there remains a large amount of progress to be made. Trans* individuals seeking gender-confirmation surgery still find barriers to accessing this procedure. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Shakina Nayfack said, “This surgery, not for all trans people but for trans people for whom it’s right, is a life or death situation.” Every individual has the right to feel comfortable in their own body, to look in the mirror and see themselves and find refuge. For many, health care obstacles makes this impossible.

Many insurance companies do not cover gender-confirmation surgery nor are they required to do so by law. These surgeries are deemed “cosmetic” for individuals seeking to align their bodies with their identities. The inability to go through this process leaves many emotionally distraught, alienated within their own bodies and potentially suicidal. These same surgeries are covered by companies for people with cancer — cisgender women with breast cancer are able to have breast reconstruction surgery paid for by insurance, although it is not a strict “health” need. The cost of these surgeries, according to, can range from $12,000 to $50,000, depending on insurance coverage. How can anyone be expected to afford this? Many trans* individuals are fired from their jobs, barred from hiring processes and kicked out of their homes, yet they are expected to come up with $12,000 to $50,000 on their own?

This is just one of the many necessary steps this nation needs to continue making in the realm of health care. The idea of health care needs to be reconstructed within the American mindset. Health care is not a commodity — it is not a good to be purchased, and it is most definitely not a luxury. It is a basic human right, and without it, the consequences can be life or death. There is no reason universal health care should not be provided to every U.S. citizen. Billions of dollars are spent killing individuals abroad as well as incarcerating innocent individuals in the U.S. prison system and Guantanamo Bay. The federal government could begin diverting some of the money they spend on death and wrongful imprisonment to saving lives and ensuring a proper quality of life.