TAMPA, Florida — No employer-sponsored health insurance. High-risk profession. Young adults with unsteady wages.
If there are people in one industry that will benefit from most of the protections in Obamacare, it’s strippers.
Countless columns have been written in the past month about how strip clubs in Tampa have been gearing up for the Republican National Convention, even importing additional dancers to meet expected demand. As Republican convention-goers enjoy Tampa’s nightlife, however, the untold story is how the policies they want to implement tomorrow will hurt the very strippers they patronize tonight.
“I can’t wait for 2014,” Dixie, a petite blonde with a subtle Southern accent told ThinkProgress, “because then I won’t have the pre-existing condition issue.” Dixie (who declined to give her last name) is quite allergic to nickel. It’s a pre-existing condition that, as for many Americans, has made finding affordable health insurance difficult. “Seriously? Even allergies?” she asked rhetorically, disgusted at insurance companies classifying her as having a pre-existing condition.
Like most strippers, Dixie isn’t offered health insurance by her employer. Though she’s worked at the same club for three years, she has no choice but to purchase expensive health insurance as an individual, made all the more complicated by her pre-existing condition. Despite conservative views on most issues, Dixie is a fan of Obamacare’s protections. “I think that’s really going to help a lot of Americans,” she said. “There’s no reason you should be denied health care for a pre-existing condition.”
There are a number of other factors preventing many strippers from getting affordable, quality care. Pre-existing conditions are a widespread issue, and the nature of the work can be fairly risky from a health perspective. They often struggle to make ends meet, like Taylor, a Tampa dancer who told ThinkProgress that she doesn’t have health insurance because she just can’t afford it as an individual.
Obamacare addresses all these factors, not just for strippers, but for millions around the country who struggle to get affordable insurance. It gives tax credits to small businesses that offers their employees health insurance, and creates new marketplaces for individuals who want to purchase comprehensive coverage, with subsidies for lower-income individuals. The new law also allows young adults to stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26. Finally, it has a host of consumer protections, including preventing insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, banning them from charging women more just because of their gender, and offering women preventive services like contraception at no additional cost.
Yet it’s these exact protections that would vanish if Republicans in Tampa get their wish. The newly-approved party platform calls for repealing Obamacare in its entirety, and numerous GOP politicians have argued that businesses should be allowed to deny health insurance to people with pre-existing conditions.
Stacey Swimme, co-founder of the Sex Workers Outreach Project, which helps prevent violence against sex workers and advocate for their rights, praised the impact that Obamacare will have on strippers. “The Affordable Care Act may be the best opportunity we have to access an individual, affordable healthcare plan for ourselves and our children,” she told ThinkProgress.
Unfortunately for strippers like Dixie, their Republican clientele in Tampa this week may prevent them from ever enjoying that opportunity to get affordable health insurance.