I didn’t intend to retweet a whole mess of sob stories this morning from young people who thought they were healthy until they got hit by an SUV/bad appendix/thyroid cancer/infection/baby. What a bunch of whiners, right? 

All I meant to do was encourage healthy young people and the other people in the world who think they are immortal, who think that health insurance is a luxury that isn’t worth affording, to give that assumption some critical thought, and take advantage of the exchanges to see what their options are. 

Then the stories came in, and I was overwhelmed in every sense of the word. It seemed something of a civic responsibility, and personally, something of an honor, to retweet as many as I could with the hopes that I would not drive you crazy. 

There were many that I missed, and I’m sorry for that. And I hope I didn’t drive you crazy. 

I have a lot of thoughts about what happened this morning, and if you’re interested, you can read them or not. No particular order. 

1: I truly didn’t go into this with an agenda. Like you (probably) I am no expert on the ACA and personally favored a single payer plan. But I do appreciate the necessity of getting healthy people into the risk pool if the private insurance system is going to a) function and b) cover as many people as possible, as affordably as possible. So I mainly wanted to remind young people that they are not immortal or immune to ill fortune, no matter how much cheese and alcohol they can eat and still look and feel great! 

2: I am a fan of personal choice and personal responsibility. I consider it a matter of personal self-interest and responsibility to get covered if you care at all about you, your family, and your personal financial future. Going uninsured seems like a fool’s gamble to me. And worse to pay the penalty to opt out of the ACA, because then you’re getting nothing for your money. But that is your choice, and guess what, you HAVE THAT CHOICE. 

3: Once the stories started rolling in, it really brought home to me how many young people’s lives have been profoundly altered and affected by sudden illness/accidents. Some didn’t have insurance for one reason or another and are still digging themselves out of the hole. Some DID have insurance, and in every case, no one said, I AM SO SAD I WASTED THAT MONEY ON INSURANCE. 

4: I mainly retweeted young people who got hurt in their twenties, because these are the folks who are usually so handsome and limber and blithe that they convince themselves they can’t or don’t need to afford insurance. I didn’t retweet a lot of other heartbreaking stories about natal complications, the difficulty of getting insurance with pre-existing conditions, and the importance of coverage for mental health issues, because each of those stories merit in number and importance an entire twitter feed of their own. I hope you understand.

5: But none of those people were sitting around going “I am so sad that Obamacare is coming.” All evidence is obviously anecdotal here, but for the most part I was engaging with real, soul-deep relief and excitement for the ACA, which I had never really experienced before. 

6:  This evidence is equally anecdotal, but I was surprised by how few people emerged to disagree with the ACA. I have come to expect contrarianism for its own sake on the internet, and I also accept that reasonable people can disagree on this legislation and the subject of insurance in general. But there were really only 6 or 12 people who chimed in to oppose the general theme of the feed. 

7: Some of these were koo koo trolls who just hate the law, and there was even a whiff of death panels in some of their rhetoric. OK. Not my thing. 

8: Others complained that the ACA was going to TRIPLE premiums for young people, especially for young men, whom you know are the true victim of all liberal machinations. @eugenemirman sent in an article that really enlightened me on both a) how certain premiums will indeed go up; and yet b) how the new plans offered by the exchanges increase service and reduce out-of-pocket costs such that, to me, it seemed like a wash. Reasonable minds may differ. If you’re of the mind that you’re never going to get sick, I would imagine having to pay ANYTHING into a risk pool is going to irk you. Anyway, here is the article:


9: And some others complained that young people can’t afford the exchanges, especially in certain states that kind of want nothing to do with ACA. I had an interesting conversation with a person named @matsie who lives in Louisiana and has a bunch of friends who she says simply can’t pay even the cheapest plan on the LA exchange. 

10: I don’t know these people’s finances, and they are free to do as they see fit. There’s no place like New Orleans, and if it’s home it’s home. But as I told @Matsie, Massachusetts is also pretty nice this time of year where (as I learned later) the exchange is very mature, well supported, and pretty good. Should her friends move? I can’t say. But there are all kinds of hard choices and sacrifices you make when you are a grown up, and these are some of them. 

11: People who refuse to participate in the ACA because THE WHOLE SYSTEM IS BROKEN and the ACA is at best a terrible half solution have some interesting ideas. But ultimately your principles aren’t going protect you from that heart attack. 

12: People from Canada and Germany and the UK really like to talk about their healthcare systems. Good on them. I had an experience with the NHS last summer that was so pleasant, swift, and efficient that I felt like I was on a cruise. But I didn’t retweet those people because they were just being braggy. 

13: After talking about Massachusetts, my part time home​, I decided to check out how the Massachusetts exchange was working this morning. And you know what, I thought it was GREAT. I’m doubled covered by my performer’s unions, but I spent about 7 minutes without even registering and found a GOLD plan in my zipcode that was only about 680 bucks for the year (for me alone, as a 42 year old man, no subsidies). That’s not zero dollars, but I think that’s a pretty good deal, and the whole process was super easy.

(Not surprising, since the Mass Health Connector website system has been in place for seven years thanks to GOV. MITT ROMNEY).

14: So even though I didn’t have strong feelings about this resource before today, I am now very glad that it did not shut down with all the national parks today! WHY WOULDN’T A YOUNG PERSON AT LEAST CHECK OUT HIS/HER OPTIONS? They like the internet, right? 

15: That said: GET IT TOGETHER NEW YORK. I could not get through to that website to save my life this morning (ironic, because what if I was dying?). Seems to be working now, though. 

16: It’s grotesque to play favorites, as all of the stories were amazingly human and touching in their own ways. But all the same, my favorite was this from @etmckinley: 

What better example of youth’s folly meeting unexpected adult reality than that of the ultimate frisbee spleen rupture. I am glad you are OK and still solvent, Eliot, and I hope you’re still spinning the disc. 

17: FINALLY, REMEMBER, YOUNG PEOPLE: just because you don’t want to pay for health insurance now doesn’t mean you’ll be able to bit-torrent it for free when you need it later. 

OK. I don’t have anything else to say about this experience except that I learned a lot; it was nice to get to know you all; and 

That is all. 

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    No young people, you are not invincible.
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    Thank you Neil.
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