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No matter what you think of Obamacare, here's the 1 thing it got absolutely right.

No matter what your politics are, here's some good news!

No matter what you think of Obamacare, here's the 1 thing it got absolutely right.

Do you currently have health insurance? Now, more than ever, the answer is likely to be "yes."

Gallup recently released its quarterly Well-Being Index numbers, and when it comes to insurance, the numbers are looking better than ever.


The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law more than five years ago, and, to put it generously, it's still controversial.

The law has faced (and survived) two Supreme Court challenges. Members of Congress have voted to defund and/or repeal the law more than 50 times. And it remains one of those topics that's probably best not to bring up at the Thanksgiving Day dinner table.



The road here has been a wild one. It must also have been a gold mine for people who make poster boards and markers. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

But let's sidestep the rhetoric for a bit and look at the results.

It certainly seems like the ACA is here to stay, especially after it was upheld again just a few weeks ago. So it's worth seeing if the Act is, you know, actually helping people.

In late 2013, just before one of the key provisions of the law was to take effect, there were more uninsured Americans than ever before.

In the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index for the fourth quarter of 2013, 17.1% of U.S. adults surveyed had no form of health insurance.

So in 2014, when the key provisions of the law kicked into full effect, it seemed like the moment of truth was finally here. Finally, we'd have the answer to one of the key questions of President Obama's presidency: Will this law actually reduce the number of uninsured Americans?

Now there's good news. Ever since 2014, Gallup has observed a downward trend in uninsured rates.

By the end of the first quarter of 2014, rates dropped below 17%; by the second quarter of 2014, only 15.6% of Americans were without insurance. And by the end of 2015's first quarter, the rate of uninsured Americans was at 11.9%.

Then came the latest numbers, released just after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of key provisions in the law for the second time: 11.4% of Americans are now uninsured, a new record low.

That means that 88.6% of Americans have health insurance coverage now, which is an incredible increase.


The new uninsured rates are pretty impressive. Thanks, Obama. Image via Thinkstock.

Even better, the most improvements were seen in groups with historically high uninsured rates: low-income individuals and people of color.

Between the end of 2013 and the second quarter of 2015, Gallup shows, the uninsured rate for black Americans dropped from 20.9% to 12%; Hispanic people saw their rate drop from 38.7% to 29.1%.

On the whole, uninsured numbers decreased across all ages, races, and income levels.

And with that, the question of whether or not the ACA is helping those most in need has been answered, and it's a resounding "yes."

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Image.

By making health care more accessible, we're also seeing major on-the-ground improvements.

Those big numbers are one thing. But the millions of people who have seen their insurance situations improve during the past few years are the evidence of true improvements.

They're people like freelancer Andrew Stryker, who told the Washington Post that the ACA helped cut his premiums in half.

And they're people like this employee, who commented on Addicting Info about the struggle to afford insurance on their own.

"I lost my job in 2013 and was offered COBRA at $450 plus per month which I cannot afford on unemployment. I have epilepsy, a pre-existing condition, and was rejected when I shopped for private insurance. Thankfully, the ACA took effect and I now have affordable insurance with the cost based on my low income on unemployment. Without the ACA, I would be left without health insurance leaving me vulnerable to losing the home I worked to pay for over the last 30 years. ... The [ACA] is the best thing that happened to the American people in a very long time. Unfortunately, too many of them don't know it yet, but they will over time."

Politics aside, we're learning an important lesson.

Lives have been changed for the better as a result of expanded insurance access. Let's keep focusing on that priority.

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
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Growing up in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan always loved the ocean. It's why she decided to study marine biology. But the more she learned, the more she realized that it wasn't enough to work in the ocean. She needed to protect it.

"I see the ocean ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change," she says. "I felt powerless and didn't know what to do [so] I decided to pursue my master's in environmental management."

This choice led her to work in environmental protection, and it was fate that brought her back home to the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia — one of the last places on earth where species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros still live in the wild today. It's also home to over 300 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to the region.

"When I first flew over the Leuser Ecosystem, I saw an intact landscape, a contiguous block of lush, diverse vegetation stretched through hills and valleys. The Leuser is truly a majestic landscape — one of a kind."

She fell in love. "I had my first orangutan encounter in the Leuser Ecosystem," she remembers. "As the baby orangutan swung from the branches, seemingly playing and having fun, the mother was observing us. I was moved by the experience."

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

"Over the years," she continues, "the encounters with wildlife, with people, and with the ecosystem itself compounded. My curiosity and interest towards nature have turned into a deep desire to protect this biodiversity."

So, she began working for a government agency tasked to protect it. After the agency dismantled for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to create the HAkA Foundation.

"The goals [of HAkA] are to protect, conserve and restore the Leuser Ecosystem while at the same time catalyzing and enabling just economic prosperity for the region," she says.

"Wild areas and wild places are rare these days," she continues. "We think gold and diamonds are rare and therefore valuable assets, but wild places and forests, like the Leuser Ecosystems, are the kind of natural assets that essentially provide us with life-sustaining services."

"The rivers that flow through the forest of the Leuser Ecosystem are not too dissimilar to the blood that flows through our veins. It might sound extreme, but tell me — can anyone live without water?"

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

So far, HAkA has done a lot of work to protect the region. The organization played a key role in strengthening laws that bring the palm oil companies that burn forests to justice. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind court decision that fined one company close to $26 million.

In addition, HAkA helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that would have damaged critical habitat for the Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They're working to prevent mining destruction by helping communities develop alternative livelihoods that don't damage the forests. They've also trained hundreds of police and government rangers to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first women ranger teams in the region.

"We have supported multiple villages to create local regulation on river and land protection, effectively empowering communities to regain ownership over their environment."

She is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year. The donation she receives as a nominee is being awarded to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local foundation is working to protect some of the last remaining habitats of the critically endangered leatherback turtle that lives on the west coast of Sumatra.

"The funds will help the organization keep their ranger employed so they can continue protecting the islands, endangered birds and sea turtle habitats," she says.

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen. Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Nominate her today!

Photo by Vanessa Garcia from Pexels

A professor's message to students has gone viral.

If you know any teachers, you probably know how utterly exhausted they all are, from preschools all the way up through college. Pandemic schooling has been rough, to say the least, and teachers have borne the brunt of the impact it's had on students.

Most teachers I've known have bent over backwards to help students succeed during this time, taking kids' mental and emotional health into consideration and extending the flexibility and grace we all could use. But teachers have their own mental and emotional needs, too, and at some point, something's gotta give.

A college student posted screenshots of a professor's message on Twitter with the comment "someone PLEASE check on my professor." It's simply incredible.

The message reads:

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Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
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Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

Looking for some good gift ideas that wont break the bank? We've got you covered with these five suggestions available at our very own Upworthy Market! You can feel good about your purchases, too. That's because every item you buy from the Upworthy Market directly supports the artisans who crafted it.


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Mom gets surprise call from daughter.

A FaceTime from her daughter is the best surprise this mom could ask for. Why? Because unbeknown to her, the daughter arrived back home from college in secret. And she shared this touching impromptu reunion with TikTok for everyone to enjoy.

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