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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-181
Number of pages23
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy


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