Pedro Rojas holds a sign directing people to an insurance company where they can sign up for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, before the February 15th deadline on Feb. 5, 2015 in Miami, Fla.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty

Obamacare critic gets sick, changes his mind

It’s hardly a secret that the Affordable Care Act has plenty of fierce critics, but once in a while, we’re confronted with amazing anecdotes about consumers who thought they hated “Obamacare,” right up until they needed it.
Last year, for example, we were introduced to a Philadelphia-area man who was convinced he wanted no part of the ACA, based on coverage he’d seen on Fox News. But when the man ran into health trouble, a friend convinced him to give “Obamacare” a try, and he soon after had life-saving valve-replacement heart surgery. Had he not changed his mind, the man later said, he “probably would have ended up falling over dead.”
There are plenty of similar examples elsewhere, but Luis Lang seems to be a special case. The South Carolina man gained quite a bit of notoriety online after Lang refused to get health insurance, discovered he’d suffered several mini-strokes, began to lose his eyesight, and found himself unable to work.
Lang, at least initially, blamed the Affordable Care Act for his troubles. Though that obviously didn’t make any sense, the lifelong Republican ignored enrollment deadlines, but assumed the system would help him in the event of a crisis.
Lang may have benefited from Medicaid expansion, but he lives in South Carolina – which means his Republican-led state government is willing to leave him and people like him behind. Lang eventually turned to a crowdfunding campaign, urging volunteer donors to help him raise money to pay the surgery he needs but can’t afford.
In an interesting twist, ThinkProgress’ Tara Culp-Ressler reported this week that Lang has learned a lot from his ordeal – and he’s even walking away from the GOP.
“Now that I’m looking at what each party represents, my wife and I are both saying – hey, we’re not Republicans!” Lang said. He added that, though he’s not a political person by nature and has never voted solely along party lines, he wants to rip up his voter registration card on national television so Americans will have proof that he’s making the switch.
If a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged, perhaps a Democrat is a Republican who needs medical care.
In his interview with ThinkProgress, Lang added that he blames a lot of people for his mess, but added, “I do mainly blame Republicans for their pigheadedness. They’re blocking policies that could help everyone. I’m in the situation I’m in because they chose not to expand Medicaid for political reasons. And I know I’m not the only one.”
Lang went on to say that he intends to be smarter about this in the future and now supports a universal health care system that makes coverage available to all.
He’s even making eye-related jokes: “This whole thing has helped me see more clearly. Like they say, hindsight is 20/20.”