When the economy tanked back in 2009, my family and I were trying desperately each month to pay our $1500 a month insurance premium, and eventually we didn’t have a choice but to let our insurance lapse. That time we survived without medical insurance was rocky to be sure I have a handful of minor health conditions that require regular checkups, and at least once I got extremely sick with pneumonia because we couldn’t afford routine medical care.
Living without health insurance was challenging for our family, who are by and large pretty healthy. Imagine what it’s like to live without it when you have serious health conditions in your family. Or imagine what it’s like to have no choice but to pay extraordinarily high premiums for health insurance because of serious health conditions like my friend Julia Roberts — who paid more than $32,000 for health insurance last year, plus an additional $27,000 in other medical expenses, including co-pays and medications.
That’s nearly $60,000 in medical expenses — more than the median income for most families in the United States.
Julia’s two children have a condition called Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease/Congenital Hepatic Fibrosis. Both of her children have already required kidney transplants, and liver transplants are also in their future. Her kids are pretty amazing, frankly (I like them both a lot), and deserve every single chance at life that the medical community can offer them. So naturally once the Affordable Care Act became available, Julia was one of the first to apply. She wrote about the process on her site Support for Special Needs.
In late October/early November, I was able to secure a registration log-in and apply for coverage. I entered all information required including our social security numbers and income from W-2s. I was as surprised as anyone to get several options and without question or hesitation, I applied for the maximum coverage, most expensive policy.
The figure on the screen said $1272 (with no subsidy, as we don’t qualify) much to my disbelief. I walked into my husband’s office with the number, “There’s no way this is right, right? It can’t be true.”
Her family is saving somewhere between $33,000 and $38,000 a year because of the Affordable Care Act. Think, for a moment, what that means for a family. Savings. College funds. The chance to improve their home or buy a new car.
Most of all, however, it means breathing room. I hope and pray that the Affordable Care Act lives up to its potential and continues to help both families like mine and families like Julia’s. Julia says it well:
I know we’re a divided nation about Obamacare, and I worry next year our healthcare costs will shoot back up. But like living a life with kids with special needs who have a life-threatening disease, I can only hope. I hope our government can figure it out and I hope our political leaders will work together to improve on the Affordable Care Act. I can only speak for our family, but Obamacare is life-changing for us. We now have decent coverage we can afford, which will make all the difference in this American family’s life.
I couldn’t be happier for Julia’s family, and I hope you are too. That kind of peace of mind is valuable to everyone.