Discovering a Healthy Conversation

I was recently on a run with one of my best friends, whom I’ve known since we were just twelve years old. From visits to our local burrito shop in middle school to hanging out at the pool in high school to going to college together in Santa Cruz, it’s safe to say we know each other well. However, as we ran side-by-side through a local park in Oakland, I learned something about her that I’d never known: she has, and continues, to access her health care through community health centers.   

I realized at that moment, that despite knowing our deepest secrets, I’d never known how she got her healthcare coverage. I knew that she immigrated from Iran when she 5 years old, and that her parents worked very hard to give her the best life they could. But when I questioned her further, she said - without hesitation - that she relied on free clinics and Medi-Cal throughout her childhood, and was recently covered under California’s Low Income Health Program. In my role at Blue Shield of California Foundation, every day I work to promote policies and practices that ensure these vital resources are available to those in need. It’s both rewarding, and eye-opening, to find my friend relies on them too.

Our chat showed me that even though we grew up in the same community, and now live in the same city as adults, something as crucial and basic as our healthcare had simply never come up. Thankfully, since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, healthcare is now something people talk about more freely - from challenges to success stories, it is increasingly at the center of America’s consciousness.

My friend is now getting her master’s degree, and recently enrolled in an affordable healthcare plan through Covered California. I’m excited to see her pursuing her American dream, and am proud to be able to support the safety net system that has helped make that dream possible. I now believe that bringing the healthcare dialogue out of the shadows and into everyday dialogue  has the potential to bring us closer to a healthy population, and closer to one another.

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