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Fight for our health: Activism in the face of health insurance precarity

  • Beza MeridEmail author
Original Article


The Affordable Care Act, which expanded health insurance coverage to millions of Americans and federally mandated the provision of health insurance to individuals with “pre-existing conditions,” is a politically divisive law facing an ongoing ‘repeal and replace’ effort in Congress. As patients, caregivers, and health activists fight to resist the repeal of the ACA, they are sharing intimate illness narratives in an effort to frame the repeal effort as a looting of their insurance benefits and an attack on the investment in equity and justice they say the ACA represents. Drawing on a discourse analysis of primary documents from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and illness narratives shared by the Service Employees International Union’s Fight For Our Health activist campaign, this article examines how the illness narrative is deployed here as a political call to action. I consider how this resistance effort frames the inevitability of illness and the emotional burdens of what I call ‘health insurance precarity,’ or the uncertainty that defines the experience of being uninsured, as a justification for positioning health activism as a cultural and political obligation shared by all.


Health insurance precarity Pre-existing condition Responsible patienthood Affect Health activism Illness narrative 



Thanks to Laurel Tamariz for providing insight into the story coordination process she manages for the FFOH campaign. This manuscript is comprised of original research material, and it is not under review elsewhere. I do not have any competing interests in this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication StudiesUniversity of Michigan-Ann ArborAnn ArborUSA

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