A new website shares the powerful stories of lives saved by the Affordable Care Act.

The health care law is a hot topic in politics, but what about the people who rely on it?

A year after being diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, Kelly Angard is waging a fight for not only her life, but for millions of others.

Over the past 12 months, the 52-year-old self-employed photographer and artist has undergone chemotherapy and surgery and is once again going through another round of chemo. With insurance, her treatment costs her around $16 per month; without insurance, her out of pocket costs rise to more than $5,200 per month — unaffordable on virtually anyone's budget. Without treatment, it's probable that her cancer would reach a terminal stage within months.

Kelly Angard and her daughter. Photo courtesy of Kelly Angard.


Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Angard would have found it nearly impossible to find health insurance.

Thanks to the 2010 law, also known as "Obamacare," Angard couldn't be denied coverage on the basis of having a preexisting condition. At the time of her diagnosis, Angard was still on her recently-separated husband's insurance, and while she was able to stay on his plan for a while, she'd eventually found herself in need of her own policy. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, she couldn't be turned away due to her cancer diagnosis.

November's election brought a renewed call from the law's opponents for its repeal. That's when it hit home for Angard that she may soon lose what coverage she has.

"It hit me like a freight train," she says, noting that she had been rediagnosed just weeks before the election.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Angard.

She teamed up with two other women to create Faces of the ACA, a website dedicated to boosting the stories of individuals whose lives have been saved because of the law.

The political rhetoric surrounding the law has overshadowed the reality of what its repeal would mean to the millions of people who benefit from it. Angard, along with Anjali Fernandes and Mary Afifi, launched Faces of the ACA to help take the discussion surrounding the law beyond the rhetoric.

"So many people do not understand — they hear the talking points, but they don't really understand what that exactly means — what that looks like for a person [like me]," she says.

"I've had the idea in my head that people just want to be heard. Obviously, even more so now, in this environment after this election, people want to be heard. So, in a nonpartisan way, the idea of having a place where people can have a voice came into my head. I was overwhelmed with doing it on my own, but through conversations ... with a few other people, I said, 'I really believe that we need to get our faces in front of Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and the others.' And the lady I was talking with said, 'Yes, we do.' She said, 'Faces of the ACA.'"

Faces of the ACA has a simple goal: to push back on the politicized approach to health care.

And that's exactly why Angard wanted to avoid using the term "Obamacare" across the site.

"I don't want it to be a political issue at all," she says. "And so I made no political issue on the site because everybody has health needs. Calling the law by its respectful name was very important to me."

Photo by Luke Sharrett/Getty Images.

It turns out that when you ask people about what the Affordable Care Act actually does, they like it.

According to a December survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 85% of the public support the provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26, 83% support eliminating out of pocket costs for preventative services, and 69% favor the provision that bans insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of preexisting conditions.

That same poll found that just 26% of the public want the law completely repealed. 30% of Americans actually think the law needs to do more.

Repealing the law would have some potentially disastrous effects.

The Urban Institute, a public policy think tank, found that repealing the Affordable Care Act would cause nearly 30 million Americans to lose their insurance. Of those newly uninsured, up to 36,000 people may die as the result of no longer having access to health care.

Misconceptions about the law, however, continue to run rampant, and that's why stories from people whose survival depends on it are so very important.

Most of us have benefited from the law in one way or another. Still, many don't seem to understand what the legislation actually does. In October, then-candidate Donald Trump appeared to confuse the set of standards and regulations (what the law consists of) with some sort of insurance plan all on its own (which is not what the Affordable Care Act is).

Another common, if somewhat misunderstood, argument against the legislation is that it's driving the cost of insurance up. The reality is that this problem existed long before the law was passed, and interestingly enough, it was opposition from some of the more conservative members of Congress that eliminated the possibility of a "public option" — something that would have helped rein in those yearly increases. While the average premium increase for plans bought through the Healthcare.gov marketplace increased by 22%, few were actually affected by this, as the available subsidies increased as well.

As of this writing, Faces of the ACA has roughly 100 stories from a wide range of Americans.

From Luanne T., who was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 13, to Mark D., who shared his story of being denied coverage pre-ACA due to a clerical error, it's worth taking your time to visit the site and see just how many people depend on the ACA and what it would mean to lose it.

This really shouldn't be a partisan issue. The U.S. is one of few industrialized countries not to guarantee health care for its citizens, and while even many of the law's proponents would argue that a single-payer system would be an ultimately better solution, the Affordable Care Act is a big step in the right direction — and Faces of the ACA shows why.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act stand outside the Supreme Court in 2015. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

More
terimakasih0/Pixabay

When Iowa Valley Junior-Senior High School principal Janet Behrens observed her students in the cafeteria, she was dismayed to see that they spent more time looking down at their phones than they did looking at and interacting with each other. So last year, she implemented a new policy that's having a big impact.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

popular
The Guardian / YouTube

Earlier this month, a beluga whale caught the world's attention by playing fetch with a rugby ball thrown by South African researchers off the waters of Norway.

The adorable video has been watched over 20 million times, promoting people across the globe to wonder how the whale became so comfortable around humans.

It's believed that the whale, known as Hvaldimir, was at some point, trained by the Russian military and was either released or escaped.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Facebook / Maverick Austin

Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

One dad is getting attention for the incredibly supportive way he handled his daughter's first period. "So today I got 'The Call,'" Maverick Austin started out a Facebook post that has now gone viral.

The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

Keep Reading Show less
popular