In 1948, the newly established United Nations was faced with a crossroads. Being only a few years old, they had to deliver a message that effectively portrayed their desire for well-being and security for all. So, as they conducted one of their first General Assemblies, the United Nations made a proclamation to the world that health is a universal right, setting a precedent for the post-war world to follow. Although health care costs have increased a resounding 91% since 2000, according to Journal of the American Medical Association, the United Nations declaration is no less valid. Insurance is enabling millions to obtain the essential right of health even when they are facing an unparalleled rise in health care rates. Recently, I have experienced firsthand the benefits and importance of insurance. Living slightly below the poverty line is a bittersweet blessing for my wife and me. Although we may struggle week to week financially, we have found comfort in the recent support of our nation’s government. The Affordable Care Act has given countless the opportunity to health, and my wife and I are just two faces of that fortunate population. Because of this aid, we were able to endure a recent difficulty. I currently live in Salt Lake City, an urban community backed against the Wasatch Front, a stretch of mountains bearing the “World’s Greatest Snow.” Last winter, I took advantage of this natural wonder through the form of skiing. However, my fun and laughter turned to pain after a violent fall. Lost for breath and wide-eyed in shock, I remained on the snow covered trail, momentarily unable to move. I found my breath and, with the help of a friend, was able to get up and gently coast down the mountain. I eventually made my way to a small medical clinic at the base of the slope. They examined me and determined it was best for me to receive a series of scans to ensure that everything was okay. An x-ray for my chest, to ensure no broken ribs, a CT scan for my head, to verify no internal bleeding, and another CT scan for my abdominal cavity, to inspect for any organ punctures or failures. Overwhelmed by the possible cost, my naivety overcame me, and I diagnosed myself to be healthy enough to go without treatment. However, I was sadly mistaken. My apologies if I am getting too personal, but the following days were filled with bloody urine and punching flank pain. Eventually, the pain was too great; I knew that I needed treatment, yet I was unsure if I could afford it. Thankfully, because of the Affordable Care Act, I was covered by insurance. After a relieving phone call, I was comforted by my insurance that treatment was affordable. What could have been a serious fiscal burden to my wife and me turned to a sigh of relief as I was treated for my “fractured kidney,” my exact emergency department diagnosis, without having to spend a single penny. My piercing flank pain transformed into joyful tears as I was able to celebrate my newfound health. The more I experience, the more I come to discover how insurance is multifaceted, expansive, and complex. As I find security in knowing that my health is protected through insurance, others find the many other benefits of insurance in various ways. Just the other day, my sister’s car was broken into. Although nothing important was taken, the trauma and anguish that follows such an event were monumental. Thankfully, because of insurance, she was reimbursed for what was stolen and her car was repaired of any damage. Insurance gave my sister hope in an otherwise lamentable situation. Every day, someone, somewhere benefits from insurance. While I do not know their names or their situations, I can find comfort in the fact that they can remain protected under an umbrella of insurance. So, when I think about the importance of insurance, I think about freedom, I think about the peace of mind as it can protect me from a financial crisis as I live from paycheck to paycheck, and, lastly, I think about the other some twenty million others that have benefited in some way by having insurance through the Affordable Care Act. In a year from now, I will in my first year of medical school. As I learn how to be an efficient and capable physician that betters the lives of those in need, I will not forget how my insurance bettered my life when I was in a state of near destitution. Although my personal experience may pale in comparison to those fighting much graver conditions, our results remain the same because of insurance- a freedom from financial distress and a fulfillment of our essential right to adequate health and well-being.
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