I saw a commercial the other day that captured my attention, but likely for all the wrong reasons. It featured an older woman, one who inspired feelings of warmth and grandmotherly love, talking about her experience fighting cancer. She was speaking out against the Affordable Care Act, explaining that she had received the best treatment in the world as she fought for her life, and that ACA would mean losing our ability to provide that same level of care to people just like her.
I found it ironic, if only because most in this country can’t actually afford that “best treatment in the world” she was touting. They are strapped with no insurance or mediocre coverage at best, faced with choosing between putting food on the table for their children or attending to their own medical needs. Medical debt is the No. 1 reason for bankruptcy in this country.
Is it still considered the best treatment in the world, if it isn’t accessible by all? Or even by the majority?
Prior to ACA, my preexisting condition would have made it impossible for me to receive coverage at all.
I am, and always have been, in favor of health care reform. Even more so since becoming sick myself four years ago, racking up nearly $50,000 in medical debt, despite having what most would consider “good” health insurance. I became self-employed this year, a leap I took because isn’t that the American dream—to be able to pursue our passions and make a living doing it? For me, this leap also meant being able to be the kind of mother I wanted to be to my daughter: having the flexibility to limit her hours at daycare and to attend to her needs myself as much as possible while still paying our bills and putting food on our plates.
I work hard doing something I love, and I am lucky. I make a pretty decent paycheck doing it as well. But one of the perks I gave up when leaving the corporate world was the good health insurance I had always coveted before. I retained COBRA for several months, paying out of pocket for the coverage my company had previously subsidized. With them, my premiums had been $150 a month, and by the time I left the corporate world this year, my deductible was $450 a year, and my doctor’s appointments ran me 20% a visit after my deductible was met. With COBRA I was paying $750 a month and still had the same deductible and fee for doctor's visits.
I know many, many people who don’t have insurance anywhere near comparable to what I had. It was a huge difference, but the other health care options available to me as a self-employed woman weren’t even kind of comparable. High deductibles, limited coverage, and premiums that were still a great deal more than I had been paying before. Suddenly it made more sense not to carry insurance at all than it did to keep paying for COBRA or to buy into one of those plans.