(Bloomberg Politics) — Luis Lang, a 49-year-old smoker and diabetic from South Carolina, is going to go blind unless he figures out how to pay for expensive eye treatment.
Lang is a self-employed, uninsured handyman who stopped working due to his poor vision. He’s also a Republican who decided not to purchase Obamacare and prided himself on being able to pay his own medical bills, but also assumed that there would be some kind of government help in the event of an emergency, the Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday. He missed the enrollment period and wouldn’t have qualified for subsidies because, since he’s not working, he makes too little money. But he still makes too much money for Medicaid, which South Carolina did not expand.
“As each day goes by my vision get worst,” Lang, who apologized for grammatical mistakes due to his deteriorating vision, wrote on his GoFund Me page. “And if I do go blind it will take [surgery] to get my vision bac[k] if they can.” Since the Observer story was published Lang has received over $500 in donations, including several from Obamacare supporters chiding him for not signing up for the health care law. (Example: “I really hope that you get your operation soon so that you can go back to work and hopefully understand why the ACA was passed in the first place.”)
Lang’s story is the kind of personal health care anecdote that says something larger about the role the Affordable Care Act plays in people’s political and personal lives. During ACA’s first enrollment period, there was a lot of debate over the validity of several Obamacare horror stories: ads featuring men and women who lost their doctors or whose premiums were suddenly unaffordable because of the new law.