Communicating through photos: Health Advocacy meets Occupy Wall Street

Perhaps it was all started by Frank Warren’s Post Secret project in November 2004.  Whatever its beginnings, using stark note cards to tell a story in video or still photography has become an important and intense vehicle of storytelling on the Internet.

Teens have been using index cards in videos to describe their despair at bullying, their secrets and their understanding of faith.  One teenager, Ben Breedlove, just used this format in December 2011,  to describe three near-death experiences that gave him peace in facing death.  His family posted the video after his fatal heart attack on Christmas Day, 2011.

Occupy Wall Street has also been using this style, in still pictures,  to allow people to self-identify as part of the movement and to tell their stories.  Hundreds of people have added their stories.

One example of this compelling format is Stephanie Sauter’s Facebook post.   It is also an example of a message found in many other Occupy Wall Street narratives.

After conducting a random and cursory review of  200 October postings on  the Tumbler website,  160 of those postings chronicle the negative impact that health (and the health care system in the US) has on personal financial status.  These essays trend around similar themes.

Many of the 160 posts described major medical crises.  Health insurance was unavailable for  the following reasons:

1) Employers had discontinued providing health insurance, or employers didn’t provide it to begin with.

2) The individual who posted was self-employed and couldn’t  afford health insurance.

3) The individual had no health insurance due to unemployment.

4) The individual was working at “part-time” jobs which generally have no benefits.

5) Health insurance premiums kept rising and pay didn’t keep pace with the rise in premiums.

As in the case of Ms. Sautter, others experienced a worsening of their medical condition because of a delay in care, thus increasing the cost of their care in both money and health.

Care of eyes and teeth were of neglected out of necessity.

Denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions and extremely high premiums due to rare or genetic conditions were noted.

Care for mental health, medications and therapy, were not covered by health insurance and required out of pocket expenditures.

Several veterans expressed the effect of war on their health and decried the lack of affordable mental health services.

Caring for elderly family members, to keep them out of nursing homes, has caused heavy financial burdens.

Even those with health insurance describe being overwhelmed by medical bills.  Many are using up life savings to pay for medical care or medications.

These postings create a clear and compelling picture of the enormous burden that is being placed on the citizens of the US.

Read the posts.  Then decide for yourself.  Why shouldn’t healthcare be a right for all Americans?

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