US Election 2020: Why healthcare matters to voters

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Health panel

Healthcare is one of the most important issues that drives voters to the polls in the US.

But why is the issue so politically divisive?

We asked two Republicans, a Democrat and an independent voter.

Born and raised by working-class Mexican immigrants in South Texas, Joe Iglesias votes for philosophy over personality. He says both parties have been hijacked by their extremes, but is voting for Donald Trump because he supports the mantra of limited government, including on healthcare.

Why does this election matter to you?

I am the son of an immigrant who was taught that anyone with half a brain and a decent work ethic could make it in this country (he was right). Simply put, Trump is the lesser of two evils. This country has a tremendous pool of talent yet the zenith of our political class are these two clowns. Statesmen and visionaries cannot get their message out in a constructive manner in a social media environment.

How do your health issues influence your vote?

Government involvement in healthcare via the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has raised the cost of health insurance in rural areas - something never highlighted. It's also raised the bureaucratic costs. It eliminated many insurance options previously afforded to young folks. Insurance options were always available, but in too many cases, people opted for the nicer car or latest smart phone versus a decent healthcare plan.

As a Type 1 diabetic since the age of 14, Laura Marston has had to ration insulin as the price has skyrocketed over the past two decades. She has twice sold all her possessions in order to be able to afford the insulin she needs. In this election, her prime concern is the protection of the Affordable Care Act.

Why does this election matter to you?

During the 24 years I've had diabetes, the insulin that keeps me alive has increased in price. Because I have a lifelong "pre-existing condition", I was unable to purchase health insurance at any cost prior to the ACA. If the ACA is overturned by the current administration, I must pay a lot more on insulin to survive. I can't do that.

How do your health issues influence your vote?

My number one issue when voting is: which candidate will stand up for patients over corporate profits? Which candidate will fight for the immediate end of the exploitation of chronically ill Americans? Which candidate is most likely to support federal price caps for insulin so that the seven million Americans who depend on insulin injections to survive have a fighting chance to keep living without going broke or suffering irreversible complications from inability to afford insulin? Also, the current administration has no plan for battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Sam Wright is a millennial who works in the tech industry and supports conservative policies on healthcare and the economy. He does not like everything that Donald Trump stands for and represents, but says Joe Biden's healthcare plans do not appeal to him at all.

Why does this election matter to you?

I value freedom of choice and freedom to protect myself and my family. I'm college educated and hold a 9-5 job. I support Trump because I agree with many of the policies Trump promotes and bolsters (whether or not he knows or intends).

How do your health issues influence your vote?

Healthcare is a big piece. Obama famously said: "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor", which was clearly a bald-faced lie in retrospect. Since the enactment of the so-called "Affordable Care Act" the amount of money I have had to pay for healthcare has skyrocketed. Additionally a look at the Veterans Affairs (VA) is proof that American government fails at healthcare. Something about America and nationalised healthcare don't ever work together. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience vote for Biden, a man that stood by and let the American people think they were getting cheaper healthcare and that they could "keep their doctor".

Rachel Delgrego is a recent college graduate and a progressive voter concerned about the high cost of healthcare. After her mother was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, she was denied coverage by 33 different insurance companies because of her pre-existing conditions.

She is voting for Joe Biden to bring "stability" back to the healthcare plans of everyday Americans.

Why does this election matter to you?

I have been involved in politics since my father was a local councilman in our small town of Norwood, Pennsylvania. Joe Biden was not my first choice. Because of my age and background, I tend to be further left of Joe. However, I do believe that what we need right now in this country is stability, and Joe will be able to provide us with true leadership.

How do your health issues influence your vote?

My mother's and my health issues have become one of the biggest influences on my vote since I turned 18 and could start voting. My first election was the 2016 election, so you can imagine how nervous I was when casting my vote that we could lose our healthcare, have premiums and co-pays raised, and have our rights terminated depending on what candidate was elected. In the past 4 years I have seen that nightmare play out, and I don't believe my mother and I would have a good chance of surviving another four years of this turmoil.

Reporting by Sam Cabral and Silvia Martelli

Image source, AFP

All voters featured here are members of our US election voter panel.

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