Joe Biden against a black background.

Joe Biden’s “Personal” Healthcare Ad Misses a Lot

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The majority of Democratic candidates in the 2020 presidential race have come out in favor of Medicare-for-all or some version of single-payer healthcare. Joe Biden is not one of them, and this week, he released an ad explaining why.

He says that the issue of healthcare is very personal to him and he has suffered a lot of tragedy in his life. His wife and young daughter were killed in a car crash that his two sons survived. Decades later, his son Beau was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In the ad, Biden says he doesn’t know what he’d have done in either of these events if he and his family hadn’t had health insurance. That’s why healthcare and Obamacare specifically are “personal” to him.

It’s an emotional ad and for many, it will be an effective one. But it misses such a giant part of the picture that is our current healthcare minefield. Because yes, the kinds of situations Biden has found himself in are terrifying and the very least anyone can hope for at times like that is to have quality, affordable healthcare, with an insurance company that won’t deny you coverage for a “preexisting condition” or some other craven reason.

The point is, Biden and his family had those things and that’s why he’s defensive of protecting the system that allowed him to have them. But so many others living under that same system do not. (It’s also worth noting that, as the Guardian reported at the time, “Vice-President Joe Biden said he considered selling his home to help support his dying son’s family, prompting President Barack Obama to offer him financial support.”)

Trump is doing everything he can to undermine the work President Obama and Biden did but even under Obamacare—even under the ideal version of Obamacare where every single person in the country has decent health coverage—there are still some major obstacles people face when their insurance comes from for-profit companies.

Do you know someone (or maybe you’ve experienced this yourself) who avoided going to see a doctor because their copays and deductibles were just too high? Do you know someone who avoided taking an ambulance when they needed one because they were scared of having to pay thousands of dollars for that ride? Do you know someone who left a hospital stay with a bill in the thousands or tens of thousands despite having health insurance? How many people do you know at any given moment who have a Go Fund Me going to raise money for health issues?

I believe health care and health insurance are personal to Joe Biden. They’re personal to everyone. And a whole lot of people are nowhere close to having their needs met by the system Biden is so set on maintaining. The “it worked for me so it should work for you” mentality is so out of touch with reality and it’s just plain insulting to everyone for whom these systems do not work.

(H/T Pajiba, image: Tom Brenner/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.