My grandmother was moderate in every aspect of her life. Her meal portions (low-sodium, no spices, lots of vegetables) were moderate. Her daily exercise (brisk walks, water aerobics at the community pool) was moderate. Her tone of voice? Moderate. (I don’t think I ever heard her shout.) And she voted for political candidates all across the exact middle of the spectrum, from moderate Republican to moderate Democrat.

One of her political philosophies was “government should do what the free market cannot.” I like that. It makes sense. That’s why I’m for Medicare-for-All.

Maybe you’re worried my generation is drifting toward socialism. Feel free to worry about that. I personally don’t advocate for the government owning the means of production, generally speaking, but the thing about free markets is that there are winners and losers. And I think health care is too damn important for there to be losers. People’s lives are on the line.

I think of access to health care – the ability to receive necessary treatment at an affordable price – as not just an economic or a political issue, but as a moral issue. I think a lot of Americans, especially younger generations, are starting to feel that way as well. Maybe it’s the cumulative effect of seeing all the medical expense campaigns on GoFundMe – it’s pathetic that a country as wealthy as America has people begging strangers on the internet for money to buy insulin. I have a cousin with a severe peanut allergy – he has to keep an EpiPen on him at all times. When the price of EpiPens was jacked up (remember that particular scandal?), that affected my family. Corporate greed, whether stemming from the insurance industry or the pharmaceutical industry, destroys lives.

My father worked for many years as an educational technician (aka an “ed tech”) in the local public school system. His take-home pay was pretty much bupkis. (Pay ed techs more.) But the benefits were good – including the health insurance. Our whole family was on his health plan. So when he was diagnosed with cancer, we didn’t have to worry about how we were going to pay for his treatment. We were able to tell the doctors “yes” to everything they suggested, and my dad got some of the best treatment north of Boston. And when his team realized the treatment wasn’t going to work, and that he was going to die, he was able to receive top-notch hospice care.

That’s not to say we didn’t have to worry about money, of course. You still have to pay the mortgage even if you’re spending your nights curled up in a hospital armchair. You still have to buy groceries even if you never feel hungry enough to eat. But we didn’t have to worry about medical bills ruining our credit and bankrupting us; we didn’t have to worry that we would have to borrow money as well as time. And for that, at least, I’ll be grateful forever.

When Dad died, our health insurance went with him. I was lucky enough to be able to hop onto my employer’s plan. But my mom is self-employed. So at the worst possible time, she had to navigate the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges in order to get insurance for herself and my younger sister. Have you ever tried to plan a funeral while digging through years of tax and health records? It’s not fun. But despite the flaws of the ACA, without it, she would be up a creek without a paddle.

Will Medicare-for-All, or Medicare-for-Many, Highly-Regulated-Private-Insurance-For-The-Rest, or Medicare-with-a-public-option, or whichever plan you present me that makes the numbers work and has the end goal of ensuring all of us can see a doctor when we’re sick (I’m not picky) cost a lot? Sure, but we’re already paying out the nose. (The runny nose – it’s flu season!) We pay premiums, co-pays, co-insurance, travel costs, emergency care costs and, of course, the continually rising costs of prescription drugs (including, yes, my cousin’s EpiPens. Go to heck, Mylan). And I’m willing to pay more in taxes for it, I really am. After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 passed, I started receiving an extra $10 in my paycheck every week. That was my tax cut. And while 10 bucks a week is certainly nice enough, I will gladly give it up again if it means everyone else also pays their fair share toward universal health care, like all the other developed countries have.

In the meantime, there are always more fundraisers for my 10-buck tax cut to go to.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemillennial


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