StethoscopeI have to be honest, dealing with my insurance company has been a pain. They’ve put me on hold so many times that I’ve memorized the rhythm and harmony to two different hold tones. When I got into a car accident three and a half weeks ago, I never imagined how frustrating it would be to navigate such a convoluted system, let alone find answers. And through it all, I’ve learned one simple lesson – I am blessed.

Despite the headache it might cause, insurance coverage is a privilege that far too many people live without. Knowing that I can move on from this experience without having to incur any crippling medical debt is a luxury that I never truly appreciated until my accident. I’ve learned not to take my insurance for granted because, annoyances aside, it has helped me every step of the way.

However, the painful reality is that for those who live without this privilege, ordinary tasks such as driving require a more cautious and fearful approach. I was reminded of this when my colleague’s mother was involved in a traumatic car accident, just like I was. The main difference between us is that she is undocumented.

Sadly, although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) sought to address health disparities by extending health coverage to millions who remained uninsured, this law explicitly denied access to undocumented immigrants. This left millions of immigrants, including my colleague’s mother, in the dark, fearful of seeking medical care until dire situations. After her accident, she had no choice but to seek emergency medical care, due to the severity of the accident. While her condition has stabilized, she now lives in fear of crushing debt, and worse, deportation.

As the health policy fellow here at The Greenlining Institute, this experience has shifted my perspective about my work. For the past several months, I’ve researched legislation that would extend health benefits to the undocumented community; additionally, I’ve interviewed several undocumented immigrants who have expressed their difficulty in accessing health care and resources. Being able to juxtapose my experiences with those who I’ve interviewed has also allowed me to view my own life and privileges through a different lens. It has reminded me of the obligation I have to support those who struggle due to lack of health coverage. The opportunities I have been granted can and should be used to help those in need, especially when it comes to living healthy, thriving lives.

As I finalize all the remaining logistics with my insurance before the holiday break, I recommit myself to my work, and Greenlining’s mission. As an advocate, I am more mindful of the challenges and barriers that lack of health coverage presents. In the coming year, I commit to making Health for All a reality. This holiday season, as you reflect on your own blessings, I encourage you to identify and discover new ways to uplift and empower those who need it most.

Thank you, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to you all!