In Affordable Care Act/Obamacare, art, art as social inquiry, healthcare, Massachusetts

I commented on a July 12, 2012 blog post on the site, THE INCIDENTAL ECONOMIST . (I capitalize because I have a blog crush on them.) 

The blog is called “Grateful for Health Insurance” by Austin Frakt. Several bloggers contribute to The Incidental Economist. 

A lot of the posts at The Incidental Economist crunch numbers and wax poetic over graphs, which, frankly, make my eyes glaze over. (I was absent for graph reading or maybe just daydreaming. Yes yes, I can force myself to read them but I choose not to.  I did get and love algebra, however.)

But I’m really hooked on their explanations and the vast mind power they bring to the subject of healthcare.  

In his post Mr. Frakt diverges a bit and writes about the human side of healthcare especially in Massachusetts.  Here is my response. 

Photo Courtesy of NPR

Massachusetts has had the courage to create a system of personal responsibility coupled with reasonable measures for hard-working people to get medical insurance. And now they are tackling medical costs (as I understand from my reading).

I encountered the Massachusetts healthcare system through a woman whose portrait I wanted to paint.

I tried to get an interview with this woman from Massachusetts for my art project, a series of portrait stories on healthcare. She lost her high-paying job and eventually her insurance. She told me she “hated” living in that liberal state. She didn’t support Obamacare.

Then she came down with cancer as an uninsured person in Massachusetts. I asked her how she got care. She told me she could get treatment because the state made provisions for someone at her income level (now very very low).

I asked her why she took the treatment when the state’s move to universal healthcare was very against her politics.

She really was shaken. She started telling me, “Well, her sister wanted…etc.” I said “But you chose to save your own life in a state that has a system that enabled you to access care?”

I told her that her story embodies the entire debate over Obamacare. I SO wanted to paint her portrait to have her story be part of my art project. I told her that I would even paint her from behind, anonymously. I would tell her story just as SHE wished to be understood. But, alas, she declined.

This woman’s story IS the whole point of Obamacare. Until it happens to us personally, the crisis of trying to access healthcare isn’t real.

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