ObamaCare provides, gives access to students in need

By Aaron Bocook, Staff Writer

I woke up this morning to my ringing telephone.

It was not the usual telemarketer or bill collector, though. It was Kara Holden, DPT, my physical therapist. It was 9:20 a.m. and I had missed my 9:00 a.m. appointment.

“Don’t worry,” she said, “We have a cancellation at 2:30 p.m.”

The reason I missed it is simple. This is a new game for me.

Next Wednesday, Oct. 1, is not only my 32nd birthday; the date marks 13 years since the last time I had health insurance in 2001.

Another ringing in my ears.

My mother’s voice about 13 years ago: “If you’re going to get sick, do it now because the day you turn 19, you’re off my insurance.”


I am a non-traditional college student for the same reason I have not had health insurance for the past 13 years. I have never lived above the poverty line, I was born into it. Luckily for my mom, she inherited some stock when her father died that allowed her to buy a house, and pay for health insurance for herself.

Unlucky for me, because with the interest from the stock, this put her just at the income line that would have given me only about $250 per quarter in financial aid, right when I was set to start college.

So, I waited. I waited until I was old enough to be eligible for financial aid based on my own income.

I went back to school when I was 26, and have had a great experience. Besides an education, the other thing that college gave me was the most basic of free health care coverage. Basic meaning trips to Rockwood Clinic for examination and treatment of cold, flu and minor injury. Still not real insurance, but better than what I had had in years.

Until now.

People can call President Obama a socialist, a communist, a non-American, a muslim (I’m still trying to figure out why that would matter), or even the dreaded N-word. But guess what? I embrace everything he is, because I only associate one word with him: access.

I have worked as a line cook for the past eight years, and recently had to quit my job due to crippling pain in my lower back. Three times in a six month period I woke up unable to walk, and it was terrifying.

Earlier this year, I applied for Washington State Apple Care, part of Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act, and qualified.

All of the literally back-breaking work I had done, all of the 10 to 12 hour shifts I had given up having fun on Saturdays for, and I had earned barely over $13,000 for 2013.

So I went to Rockwood Clinic, a familiar name to me from being an Eastern student.

I presented my shiny new health insurance card with my fingers crossed behind my back, hoping it would work, feeling guilty for being poor, feeling guilty for quitting my job, but most of all, feeling pain.

Then, a sweet wave of relief and pure joy came over me when they swiped my card, and handed me a brown wooden clipboard and pen with a flower taped to it.

I was in.

Within three weeks, the pain I had been experiencing was diagnosed as a bulging disc in my lumbar vertebrae, and I signed up for my first four physical therapy sessions.

Sure, the system is far from perfect; like most new things, it needs time to be streamlined. But for so many Americans like me, it is a chance to have something that we have never had, or have not had in a long time: basic health care.

When the next round of “Obamacare” sign-ups comes around, I encourage everyone to sign up.

It’s time for something new.