My Health, My Vote: How Voting Saved My Life

By: AJ Titong

As a young Filipina American, I never thought to care about what kind of health insurance I had. All that mattered to me was that I had some kind of coverage. But, this all changed when I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer at a very young age. Although I work in a health policy and advocacy organization, I never realized that I would be part of the health disparities statistics that I studied in my work.

If it weren’t for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I don’t know how young women, like me, would get the care they need to fight breast cancer. Through the ACA, women can get preventive care, like well-woman check-ups, contraception and special health screenings that could be life-saving. For me, I was able to be covered in one of the most trying times in my life. I was able to afford chemotherapy, radiation, reconstructive surgeries and medications that I have to take for the rest of my life. And now, after completing my treatment, I’m guaranteed that I will qualify for affordable health insurance despite having a pre-existing condition.

But rights and reality can be in tension, and they are on the ballot during today’s elections. Our policymakers have been trying to divide us based on who we are, where we come from, and what our families look like. The thing is — voting isn’t just a solitary act. It’s a way for us as young people to use our power.

Having worked to protect people’s health care for over a decade, I’m well aware that not everyone is as lucky to get the coverage they need. And as a child of immigrants, I understand the struggles of the immigrant story. My parents only wanted for my sister and myself to live happy and healthy lives. For my family, that dream was attainable. However, that’s no longer the case for immigrant families today.

Our policymakers are singling out immigrant families and putting their livelihoods at risk — whether by separating them or threatening their immigration status, as the Trump Administration is trying to do with their plan to change public charge.

We’re stronger when we support each other in our communities, in our families, and in the voting booth. Today, you have the power to be part of the change that you believe in — to stand up to attacks on our health care and attempts to divide us. That’s why I am proud that APIAHF, Advancement Project, Demos, Faith in Action, NAACP, National Congress of American Indians, National Urban League, and Race Forward joined together to encourage young adults across all communities of color to vote.

So use your power and speak up when others can’t. Together we vote!

AJ Titong is Senior Communications Manager at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum.


Originally published at medium.com on November 6, 2018.