one time a white student from the university in my home town was talking to a student that came from africa to study and said “wow growing up in africa must have been so tough for you” and he just replied “my family could buy you” and walked away
Today, almost 1.5 million more people are signed up for health insurance than a month ago. That’s roughly the population of, say, Hawaii or Philadelphia.
You can thank the much-maligned Obamacare.
Its still-buggy website has justifiably gotten the most attention—the law won’t work if Healthcare.gov doesn’t—but Obamacare is more than that. It doesn’t just reform our individual insurance system by regulating and subsidizing it, so everyone can get coverage, regardless of preexisting condition. It also expands our government system by opening Medicaid up to people making 138 percent of the federal poverty line ($15,850 for singles and $21,400 for couples). And that’s been working even when the website hasn’t.
At least, it’s worked when states have let it work. See, states aren’t required to accept the Medicaid expansion. They can turn down the free money if they want—and most states with Republican governors have. (And it is pretty much free: the federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs the first decade, and 90 percent thereafter). The result is a bifurcated system where people too poor to qualify for exchange subsidies can get Medicaid in some states, but not others.
Last month, Walmart CEO Bill Simon revealed rather cluelessly that the vast majority of Walmart workers, as many as 825,000 in the United States, earn less than $25,000 a year. The sum is so low the average worker for the country’s biggest employer is struggling to make ends meet. By matching its low prices with insultingly low wages, Walmart forces taxpayers to subsidize its workforce through social safety net programs.
Making Change at Walmart is running a new series that highlights how some of the retailer’s employees are scraping by on Walmart wages. Here are three of the stories they have shared so far:
Anthony Goytia: The 31-year-old father of three makes about $12,000 a year and relies upon MediCal and food stamps. Some of his teeth were removed because he couldn’t afford the dental work to save them. “I don’t need cable or a big house, but I shouldn’t have to resort to selling my plasma and participating in medical trials to be able to feed my kids,” Goytia said. “I have to live payday loan to payday loan.”
Patricia Locks: A 48-year-old single mother, who makes $19,000 a year, relies on low-income housing, food banks and food stamps to get by. She recently was forced to file for bankruptcy. “It’s depressing and scary. No one who works for one of the world’s largest and wealthiest companies should have to live like this,” said Locks. “I don’t think it’s asking too much to earn enough so I don’t have to rely on food banks and other assistance to survive. And that’s why I am going to keep fighting, because I want a better life for me and my daughter.”
John Paul Ashton: The 31-year-old father of two makes $20,000 a year and also relies upon food stamps and food banks. He walks 45 minutes to work with shoes that have holes in them. “When I first started at Walmart, I was told that it was a place where I could grow and have opportunities. I soon discovered that was not the case,” said Ashton. “People take being able to buy lunch for granted. I don’t need a fancy job, but what I do need is a job that allows me to provide for my family, speak up about working conditions and needing better wages without fear of retaliation, and hopefully have more than $2 in my bank account after I pay my bills.”’
More stories of Walmart workers scraping by on less than $25,000 per year are scheduled to be released every week at MakingChangeAtWalmart.
Although the national minimum wage was raised a few years ago, it’s still very low by historical standards, having consistently lagged behind both inflation and average wage levels. Who gets paid this low minimum? By and large, it’s the man or woman behind the cash register: almost 60 percent of U.S. minimum-wage workers are in either food service or sales. This means, by the way, that one argument often invoked against any attempt to raise wages — the threat of foreign competition — won’t wash here: Americans won’t drive to China to pick up their burgers and fries.
Vaccination provides more effective protection—so-called herd immunity—when more of us are vaccinated. Universal health insurance works in something like the same way: we are better off as a society—more compassionate, but also healthier—when we can all get the care we need.