Very short diary, but I've been strutting like a peacock for a week or so so I had to share. Best part is that this story of mine has been repeated millions of times over in this country, in a dozen or so variations of this one, with much the same results.
On the first day of October 2013 I woke up early and confirmed via cell from my boss - an extremely pissed boss - that our entire office, like most of the Federal government, was indeed in shutdown mode. So I did what most of my co-workers did; I hung up and slept in.
When I did get up I went out to do some errands for myself and my sister. And I made particularly sure to wear my Obama T-shirt, as my personal middle-finger salute to the House Republicans who'd handed me this indefinite unpaid* vacation.
One errand took me to a local Afghan grocery for my sister's Darjeeling (and possibly a few baklava and dolmas for myself). The shopman, a middle-aged fellow, noticed my shirt and we got to talking about Obamacare - and he mentioned that he was interested in trying to sign up for himself and his family as they currently had no insurance. I gave him the web addresses and the exchange info ("Covered California"), and he wrote everything down on the back of a tea-box to look up when he went home. I left, grinning.
Sadly, the shopman had the same problem as many other folks did with the Healthcare.Gov website in that first month. He wasn't able to get through. Other things got in the way, work and life intervened, and the deadline passed. I was sad, but decided I'd mention it every time I went in for more baklava or lentils, so he'd try again next year.
Fortunately someone let me know that there was a grace period up to April 15 of this year for folks who'd been stymied earlier in signing up. So every time I went in before April 15, I'd ask. "Have you tried again? Here's the website - they fixed it. Or try the phone."
A few weeks ago my sister and I entered the shop - and this time I had a Covered California flyer I'd gotten at a farmer's market in Oakland, with all the info. I figured that even if he missed this deadline, he could get a head-start on being ready to sign up in September.
But it wasn't needed. As he rang up our stuff, he told us he'd finally managed to enroll, himself and his family including an adult son (under 26). Sis and I were thrilled.
But that wasn't the best part. Because of Obamacare, this man went for his first checkup in a long time - and they caught his high blood pressure, which he was now controlling with medication.
That's when I wanted to do the Chicken Dance in the middle of the store.
That's one less stroke, or one less heart attack. One less family-bankrupting hospital stay, surgery, therapies and care - all averted by a $1-copay bottle of pills, because he could friggin' afford to walk into that doctor's office in the first place. (And I'm not even taking into account the emotional strain on his family, just the financial.)
And he credited my nagging (er, my concerned requesting) with getting him signed up.
He also let me know which of the baklava were the freshest and best-tasting, and recommended some superb canned giant-beans which my sister and I have been happily devouring as snacks ever since.
So. That's my addition to the millions of anecdotes about how the ACA is changing America. I consider that man's blood-pressure meds my personal "Fuck You" to Ted Cruz and everybody else who sent me out buying Darjeeling instead of going to work that day.
(BTW, Palirria Baked Giant Beans are awesome - there's a touch of dill in the tomato sauce that makes all the difference.)
* Unpaid at the time - they did agree to backpay us, which further emphasizes the ridiculous waste of money.