How to Survive Thanksgiving Dinner with an Obamacare-Hater Relative


Since both happen in November, many of us dread the double-punch of 1.) the climax of a divisive and bitterly-fought election, and then 2.) having to politely talk with that relative or relatives at the Thanksgiving dinner table who are just a little too happy about the outcome.

This year, with the President-elect making clear that a rushed repeal bill for The Affordable Care Act is at the top of his to-do list — whether or not it’s accompanied by a viable plan to ensure that the 22 million people whose coverage depends on expanded Medicaid, subsidized insurance through the marketplaces, or the regulations that curb the worst abuses of the insurance industry, aren’t left out in the cold — well, that relative is probably just dying to get your take on the “end of Obamacare.”

Some of you are already ready to throw down — rhetorically beating the heck out of your family is how you show your love.

But for others, the conversation may be awkward and unpleasant, and you’ll be wishing you had some empirical data to help guide you through.

First, relax. You’re a doctor. You’ve got this. Then, consult our handy Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving Dinner.

1.) Try your best to listen. It may be tough to really listen in an open way, but do try to figure out where your relative is coming from, what he or she values about healthcare, and the types of people he or she thinks have the toughest time accessing the care they need. Best case scenario, you may find that you have more common ground than you thought when it comes to the real problems in our healthcare system. Worst case scenario, you’ve just performed a classic Muhammad Ali “rope-a-dope” maneuver and have lowered their defenses for the knowledge you’re about to drop!!

2.) Pick your moment. Look, you know how the human digestive system works, better than anyone. Aim for the sweet spot between when the tryptophan and the carbs have hit, and before any sugar rush from the pie. It’s OK to fight a little dirty.

3.) Drop some knowledge. Families USA, a non-profit leading national voice for health care consumers, has put together a one-page report entitled “Defending Health Care in 2017: What’s at Stake?” It lays out the exact patients who are today benefitting from the coverage expansion and the insurance regulations of ACA, and who are the most vulnerable if a repeal bill is pushed through before an adequate plan to replace their coverage has been analyzed, discussed, and debated.

4.) If all else fails, bring this link up on your phone. Take 30 seconds now and email your Senators using our online tool. Take a timeout from family traditions, and let your representatives in Congress know you’re a physician in their state, and they need to make sure that the patients you see every day don’t lose their affordable health coverage with nothing to replace it.

Because let’s be honest — convincing your relatives would be great, but convincing Congress to do right by your patients is essential.

Happy Thanksgiving!
– The CIR Health Justice for All Campaign