“The most anti-capitalist protest is to care for another and to care for yourself.” — Johanna Hedva
Although the American president and his administration were unable to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (the ACA or Obamacare), affordable healthcare coverage will continue to be under fire in the coming years. Accessing healthcare and health insurance was never easy to begin with, and the process could become even more difficult. While we do not know exactly how health coverage through the ACA, Medicaid, and Medicare could change, Americans should prepare for the worst: some if not all of their coverage could disappear or become increasingly expensive.
If you have health insurance, take advantage of it now. All insurance plans under the ACA offer free wellness visits at least once a year, including vaccines and other preventative care such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and birth control (I will discuss reproductive healthcare in depth in the next installment). Get all your routine examinations, screenings, and testing done and update your immunizations. If you do not want to pay an office visit fee, some vaccines are available at pharmacies. Think long term and take care of things that are expensive but may not be covered in the future, such as dental work, MRIs, or lab work. If you are a college student, take advantage of campus health services while you can. Preventative care costs a lot less than getting sick, and if there is something wrong, address it now while you have more options. Practice everyday preventative care by eating healthy, exercising, and sleeping well.
If you do not have insurance, check if you are eligible for Medicaid or Obamacare. If you are not eligible, lose health coverage, or your plan is drastically modified, community clinics can be great resources for basic healthcare needs. Free Clinic Directory locates free clinics near you, and The Health Resources and Services Administration provides a map of health care providers where you can access primary care and immunizations on a sliding scale. Planned Parenthood offers general health services in addition to reproductive services. GLBT Near Me locates health care practitioners self-identified as LGBTQ friendly and RAD Remedy connects trans, gender non-conforming, intersex, and queer folks to healthcare. RAD Remedy and MyTransHealth also allow you to search for clinics that accept payment on a sliding scale.
If you take prescription medications, now is the time to stock up. Find a pharmacy that carries your medications in bulk, and request vacation fills from your care provider so your pharmacy can override medication limits. Some insurance covers multi-month prescriptions, usually for a lower co-pay. If you have a good relationship with your healthcare provider, ask if they are willing to write your prescription so that it lasts for two months instead of one. It may be useful to stockpile medicines for your community as well as yourself, but this is not technically legal, so be careful. Online pharmacies can be cheaper or easier to use, and Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs, usually offered through drug companies themselves, offer discounted or free medications. You can find a list of eligible medications here.
For trans healthcare, some Planned Parenthood locations now offer hormones. A compounding pharmacy can personalize medications to fit particular needs and provide hormones at reduced prices. The Trans Assistance Project crowdfunds donations for trans folks to cover medical expenses related to getting the appropriate gender on identification documents.