What the ACA has meant to me

Before the ACA took effect, I paid $300 per month in premiums for an insurance plan with a $5000.00 deductible and no co-insurance until the deductible was met. I do not get insurance through my day job (with only two full time employees, it would cost my employer and myself and my coworker far more to have attempted that than buying on the individual marketplace, which was already expensive enough).  As the remainder of my income comes from freelance work, there was no group insurance to be had there either. My only choice was the individual marketplace, and the only plans available to me were 1. extremely expensive and 2. benefited me not at all due to high deductibles. The only reason I had insurance was that I was afraid of something catastrophic happening that would meet that $5000.00 deductible.

Of course, even after meeting that deductible I was still responsible for 30% of any medical bills. Huh. Oh, and it didn’t cover mental health services at all.

I’m a generally pretty healthy person, at least physically. That deductible was never met. Any doctor’s visits were paid for out of my own pocket. So essentially, I paid $300.00 per month…. to pay $300.00 a couple of times a year to my doctor. As that $300 was, at the time, nearly a quarter of my monthly take home income and I was also paying a car payment, once utilities were paid for as well, I barely had enough money left to buy groceries.

Under the ACA, I was able to purchase a plan with a $500.00 deductible. Preventative care office visits – the majority of the healthcare I habitually seek, for an annual physical and to get a flu shot once a year – are completely covered, and for other visits I only had a $30 copay. Though I never took advantage (and I am now glad for this, as it would have become a dreaded “pre-existing condition”), I could have also finally sought treatment for the mental health issues that have plagued me my entire life.

While insured under the ACA, due to a recurring inner ear issue, I began having bouts of vertigo and, during a particularly bad one, I fell and sliced open my face on the corner of a bookshelf. The emergency room visit to get stitches, a CT scan to ensure nothing was broken, etc. cost $4750.00. Under my previous plan – the one I paid $300/month for – I would have had to pay all of that out of pocket. Or rather, I would have had to ask mother, my friends, my family for help to pay it because there was no way I would be able to.

Under the ACA? I paid $500.00.

My total premium for my ACA plan is $273.00/month, but because of the subsidies, I only pay $80/month.  I could actually use my insurance, go to the doctor if I needed to (though still, I need to do so rarely), I felt like I was actually getting something back for the money I was putting in.

Obamacare took effect, and I was suddenly not struggling anymore. I’m not forced to live off of unhealthy food because that’s all I can afford. The thought of having that taken away…

Well, I’m glad that I’ve not sought help for my mental health because I don’t want a pre-existing condition jacking up my premiums under any new plan. Sure, I have the inner ear problem on my medical records, but that has been controlled with a cheap generic anti-vertigo medication that I only have to take occasionally when the vertigo hits.

I don’t know that I will even bother paying the $300/month for a plan that does nothing for me, except that the thought of having no insurance at all terrifies me.

I recognize that the ACA has some problems. Honestly, I don’t think it went far enough – I’d rather my taxes pay to save lives than to take them. I would have preferred a single-payer healthcare system. But am I better off under the ACA than I was before it? Without question.