Tuesday, October 22, 2013

ACA: An Ouch of Birthday Prevention

Protect the Pride!
Today’s my birthday and seeking a health plan is my gift to myself and my family. Just by posting  experiences, we all get vilified or assigned to one side or the other, but as a parent and a provider, I can’t be less than responsible to my family or myself. I didn’t plan to register with an exchange until January, but I decided to give it a try – almost as a joke – while watching the Daily Show and listening to all the Massive Glitch of the Century stories.

So, I started at a little after 10 p.m. and registered in about 18 minutes. I had some questions about small business vs. family coverage so I started an online chat with “Jonathan” while I filled out the application, watched TV and listened to see if my little one was settled in for bed or secretly researching science experiments in her room.

I asked questions for about 20 minutes and decided the best route to pursue. I finished the application, took notes and screen shots and, of course, watched the Colbert Report. I was discussing the process on social media and answered a few questions. A little after 11 p.m., it was over and I had a pdf of my Letter of Eligibility and instructions on next steps which included choosing from my top 12 plans and starting to pay premiums in early 2014. Start to finish, it took an hour. I am sharing my experiences in hopes that it will help or encourage someone else.

I lost my job a year and a half ago and I was terrified about providing for my family and what would happen if we got sick, needed a doctor or had an accident while I was on unemployment benefits. Free-lance and consulting opportunities opened up and I stopped unemployment early and my husband and I started working for ourselves. We had lots of flexibility, good bosses, but no healthcare benefits.

We took a big financial blow, but we are getting back on our feet. Health insurance for us won’t be free and it will be far from cheap. I might even argue with the “affordable,” but I know it will be possible. Despite being self-employed with pre-existing conditions, we can find what we can afford and get it.

I am a firm believer that families like us will make the sacrifices that will save money across the system. By encouraging preventative health, each subscriber’s healthcare costs are reduced over the long haul. Maybe we can prevent a cancer instead of treating a cancer. By keeping blood sugar levels stable with low-cost meds and lifestyle, we might prevent kidney disease or multiple amputations.

Working families that purchase plans will not get hand-outs, but it will be an important step in being responsible and proactive. If my little girl lands in the ER with a life-threatening injury, someone will pay the costs. My premiums will ensure that I can do my share if that ever happens.

I’m going to enter an exchange and budget my finances while trying to keep myself and my family healthy. It’s not a political statement or my support for the first black U.S. president. It’s my job.

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