Thursday, June 25, 2015


The Supreme Court just ruled that I can keep my health insurance.  Actually, the ruling affects other people, too, but I've been viewing this through a very personal lens. You see, when I was laid off in 2005 I went without health insurance for years until the ACA made it available to me.  As a woman in her late 50s, I was considered uninsurable during a time of life when many people find serious health issues.  I was lucky; I did not, but I lived in fear.

Today I am partially retired, working part-time as a consultant.  Without the ACA I would be unable to afford insurance.  Yes, I am one of those people who receive a subsidy.  I am unapologetic about it.  During the years no one would insure me I broke my foot.  The hospital x-rayed me and put my foot in a boot but would not treat me further - even though I gave them my credit card for any expenses.  They said they "were not accepting new patients" but I finally got someone to be a little more specific:  she said "We are not accepting uninsured patients."  This from a medical college hospital! So I paid out-of-pocket for an orthopedist associated with a different hospital to examine me, take more x-rays and determine that I did not, in fact, require surgery.

Most people think that the uninsured can just go to the emergency room and get "free" care.  Not so. The emergency room cannot turn you away, but all they have to do is stabilize you and refer you for care.  They do, in fact, charge you, probably more than they charge insurance companies, and if you do not pay, they can legally take action against you.  And the referral they give you may well be useless unless you have insurance. And if you go to an emergency room and discover a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease, the hospital does not have to treat you.

If you are OK with that then I want you to consider how you would feel if your parents, or your friends found themselves in this position?  Don't think it can happen?  In the last recession nearly 10% of our population was unemployed.  People like me who had worked for years, for decades, many at one job, found themselves out of work and out of insurance at a time when no one was hiring.  People get sick.  Accidents happen.  Health care is not a luxury.

The ACA is far from perfect but it is a lifeline for many and I, for one, am glad to have it.

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