An Update on My Family’s Journey to Acquire Obamacare

There was a very interesting piece in the N.Y. Times this morning on the disparity of signups for healthcare as we near the deadline for open enrollment. It all depends on where you live and the political climate in your state.

I blogged about this subject before and the problems I had with the federal website. After two days on the phone, my story reached a happy conclusion. My monthly premium went from $1436.65 to $625.39. That’s a yearly savings of $9735.24. Thank you, President Obama.

There was a glitch which I have been trying to address since December. My daughters are both under the age of twenty-six. I had full intentions of including them in my policy. But because of the state I live in, Florida, I couldn’t include them in my policy because they live year round in Colorado. In an emergency, our Florida plan covers us in another state. For regular care, we need to see a doctor in-state. The woman on the phone told me that isn’t the case in every state but Florida never did like the idea of Obamacare. They didn’t setup their own website and apparently there is no reciprocity. I am not really sure if this true in every state but that is what I was told when I signed up for healthcare and sent my two daughters out on a raft to fend for themselves.

In the eighties, when I was single and working in Boston, I was covered by Harvard Community Healthcare, one of the first not-for-profit HMO’s. I had a small co-pay, I’m guessing it was twenty dollars back then but I can’t remember for sure. I worked for a CPA. I was his only employee but he offered to pay my insurance. Nice guy. He even let me choose the plan. Some of my friends thought I was nuts to go with an HMO.

“You can’t choose your own doctors,” they said. “You’ll wait forever for an appointment,” they said.

None of that happened. I was young, healthy and living in Boston, a city renowned for its doctors and hospitals. I always had excellent healthcare whenever I needed it including the time I flew back from Colorado in a full length cast with a butterfly fracture to my tib/fib.

In the nineties, I moved to New Hampshire, married my husband and gave birth to my two daughters. We were both self employed, he painted houses, I had a small bookkeeping business. Unbeknownst to us our private insurance, which was affordable at the time, didn’t cover pregnancy. During my first pregnancy, I spent the last six weeks on bed rest, including a weekend in the hospital. My blood pressure was high, they tried to induce me three weeks early. Nothing happened. I slept through the contractions, overnight, in the hospital once again. My oldest daughter was born three weeks later, one day after my due date, by caesarean section.

Our insurance did cover complications of pregnancy. The caesarean was considered a complication. Phew!  The high blood pressure was not. Do you have any idea how much a night in a hospital costs? It’s the most expensive night’s sleep you will ever have, even back in 1992. New Hampshire has always had limited insurance choices. Some time during this period, a state law was passed requiring insurance companies to cover patients with AIDS. A lot of insurance companies hightailed it out of the state. Closed up shop and just up and left but I was able to find an affordable HMO plan that covered pregnancy. Good thing, because two and half years later when my youngest daughter was born, I was still paying the bills for the hospital stays due to my high blood pressure, despite the fact that the day my oldest daughter was born my blood pressure returned to normal. My doctor wrote the insurance company on my behalf, stating the blood pressure problem was a complication of my pregnancy. We fought the law, but the law won.

Sometime in the late nineties, as private insurance continued to soar, I went back to work full time. I was making about the same amount of money but we needed health insurance. My husband and I could no longer afford to both be self-employed. Who was going to get the job? The guy who paints houses or the gal who crunches numbers? I hated crunching numbers so I got a job with a specialty food distributor, working the supermarkets selling Brianna’s salad dressings, Emeril’s pasta sauces and Jose Cuervo margarita mix. Setting up displays, stocking shelves. It was hard work but it was good money, good health insurance and only four days a week. I stayed with them for six years but my territory kept growing, my back ached and I had arthritis in my left knee. Luckily, I had that number crunching skill to fall back on.

My story dragged on, insurance kept shooting up. I worked an accounting job close to home. I got laid off when they sold the company and moved the finance department to Oregon. I was unemployed for 14 months, paid COBRA, almost went broke. Two weeks before Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, I got the job in the cubicle forty-five minutes from home. I spent four years sitting for health insurance, losing my mind, writing a book until late at night.

I knocked on doors for Barack Obama during his first campaign for the presidency because I wanted universal healthcare. Some people were nice. We discussed our travails with the healthcare system in America. Other people were not so nice. I had a few doors slammed in my face. Such is the state of politics in America. If you haven’t had problems with insurance, say you’ve had a great job, never been laid off, never lost coverage, never sat in an emergency room with a sick or hurt child wondering how you’re going to pay the bills, then you really don’t care about this issue. It’s hard to imagine, looking back over the decades, that there are people out there who have never struggled with health insurance in America. Never walked a mile in those shoes, which I guess is what it takes for some people to care about an issue.

Anyway, for the past three months I have been trying to get my daughters to sign up for Obamacare in Colorado. I offered to help them fill out the form. I also offered to pay for it. This week I am happy to report we are all covered. Colorado has its own website. It was easy to use, the people on the phone were over the top friendly and helpful. I think everyone in Colorado is happy these days and because Colorado is a state that is cooperating with the healthcare plan and the expansion of Medicare, we have acquired no additional costs.

It’s been a long road. It’s been difficult and annoying at times but no more difficult than dealing with Comcast and the final result was much more rewarding.

To some of the critics who say things like, I’m fifty-seven, why should I pay for maternity coverage, my answer is, that’s the way insurance works. Insurance is like a casino, the house always wins. They count on safe drivers, healthy young people, homeowners who never file a claim. It’s the way the system works whether you like it or not. We’re all in this together, whether you like it or not.

In a NY Times piece, there was this: In Texas, political opposition to President Obama’s health law is so strong that some residents believe, erroneously, that the program is banned in their state. To the people of Texas and other states like it, I would like to say Obamacare is not banned in your state. You have three more days. Ignore the propaganda and join the more than six million people who have signed up already. Get yourself to the website, please. We are all in this together.

 

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