Supreme Court Rules; Injured Student Speaks Up

On Thursday, the Supreme Court made significant history, passing down their decision over the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act. Pundits were sure in the days leading up to Thursday that the justices would overturn, if nothing else, the individual mandate, which obligates all Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty when the market exchanges begin in 2014 (arguably to lower costs through ‘free market’ competition). Contrary to popular opinion, Chief Justice Roberts passed down his ruling of the 5-4 decision, supporting almost every word of the entire law.

Reactionary ripple effects were almost immediate. Some were mad. Others were relieved. But there was one young man who spoke up to share his thoughts. Ben Trockman, a 22 year old college student from Evansville, Indiana, was in a motocross accident when he was 17, causing a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Over the last five years, Ben has made incredible progress as a result of cutting edge technology and practices that, according to him, would not have been available without health insurance.

“We learned, basically, how life is different with an injury such as mine,” said Trockman, “and how to deal with things on a day-to-day basis. We worked with different types of therapy, getting used to my wheelchair, knowing how to treat my body and how dangerous pressure sores were. We gained knowledge about so many important things that would have never been possible because of the extreme expenses, without health insurance. I figured out how much my body could do physically. I spent 3 months doing very intensive therapy, 5 hours a day. I learned so much about the way to treat my body with exercise and how important it was.

“And now, I look around my room, all the important things that make life a little easier… my wheelchair, my alternating air pressure mattress on my bed, the lift above my bed that helps move me to and from… NONE of that would have been affordable without health insurance.”

Much of the health care discussion over the last decade has hinged on the idea that young people don’t purchase insurance because they perceive themselves as less vulnerable to injury and disease, rendering insurance an unreasonable cost in their estimation. Members of both parties had initially been on board with the idea of the so-called individual mandate, requiring all Americans of a certain age to pay for insurance as a means of gaining revenue for a broken health care system. If more people invested into the system, the argument goes, there would be a greater amount of money in the pool, allowing providers to seemingly lower costs to the overall population of Americans who, at some point in their lives, will inevitably need and come under the care of a doctor. At least, that’s the idea. And if Ben has anything to say about it, the more people who have the assurance of care, the better off they’ll be in the long run. He certainly was.

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