Why I love the ACA

I’ll put my summary first:

If it wasn’t for the ACA, I am literally uninsurable unless I go through my own corporation. The ACA means that I do not have to jump through that hoop, which automatically lowers my costs.

The details:

I am self-employed and make a very comfortable income. For years I was putting in enough hours with an agency that I was able to get insurance from them as a contractor, but when I left that gig I was in trouble…

I have degenerative disc disease. By the time I was in my 40s I had occasional issues with my back, and by the time I was in my mid-40s I was in constant pain. It impacted my life, but I was able to deal with it. I knew that eventually I needed to start the treatment process: first physical therapy, and if that didn’t work, on to surgery, but it was unthinkable without health insurance.

What I learned after I lost my insurance was that because of my back, I was not able to get insurance except through an employer. Other than my back, I’m extremely healthy:  cholesterol, blood sugar, weight — everything perfectly normal/healthy.

To be clear:  I was not insurable at all. I could not find insurance, even with a high premium and high deductible, even one that excluded my back. I couldn’t even find “catastrophic” insurance to cover me in case I had a heart attack or something… nothing. I could get insurance from an employer, but not as an individual.

Now, when I say I am “self employed,” I do not mean a few freelance gigs here and there. I mean year-round, full-time (sometimes 50+ hours per week) work at a very detailed at-home job for a changing palette of 5-9 clients. It’s my work and I love it. I shouldn’t have to stop this work and get a job for someone else and probably earn less money just so I can get health insurance.

My workaround

My company is an LLC. As a small business, listing myself and my husband as the two employees of the corporation (which is accurate), I was able to get insurance for me and my husband for about $1200/month.

Because we had to be listed as two separate employees, we could not get any family discounts: we were two individuals with two separate plans. This “two individual plans” thing means that my family paid twice the deductible that people with “family” plans paid. Also, this plan didn’t include either of the doctors my husband and I had been seeing for years, nor the dentist who we preferred.

The plus side is that just when my back problem got to its worst, I was finally insured and was able to take care of it.

Enter the Affordable Care Act.

In September of 2013 my insurance was cancelled. I know everyone was up in arms when the cancellations came in, but I didn’t care. You see, while I had the idea that I’d probably be able to find something cheaper on the new exchanges, since my current insurance company had paid for my expensive back surgery about 16 months ago, I figured I should be a considerate policy-holder and stick with them for a while. But when they sent me that cancellation notice, I decided I was released from that moral obligation.

So, because the ACA says that insurance companies can no longer exclude people with pre-existing conditions, we found a huge array of insurance options. My new insurance:

  • Covers the two doctors and the dentist we like
  • Has the same deductible we had before, but we are now considered a 2-person family instead of two individuals , so our total deductible is half what it was
  • Costs about $500 LESS than I was paying before.

So, that’s why I love the ACA.

Yes, it has had a rocky launch, but honestly, if there hadn’t been extreme roadblocks thrown into its path every day by those who oppose it, who’s to say the roll-out wouldn’t have been much better? It doesn’t have everything we ultimately need — but it is an excellent, assured first step toward a better health care system for everybody.