Urged on by a comment I wrote previously, I was asked to consider diarying my experience in the pre-ACA insurance wasteland...
I am SURE my story is not unique, but It SHOULD serve as a reality check for anyone who has been prone to believe any of the bushwah being peddled by the GOP/T, especially during the last two "Glitch-Hunts", I mean "hearings", led by Republicans who are STILL looking fo unfund a LAW duly passed and already in force.
As a self-employed person, I have RARELY enjoyed health care coverage from a group large enough to negotiate favorable coverage on my behalf. In the last few years I was insured, I was in the individual marketplace, which Secretary Sebelius properly characterized as "The Wild West" - and believe me, it WAS (and would STILL be if not for the ACA).
I am normally reticent to talk about personal issues in a public forum, but in this case, I think it's demanded, to put some perspective on what the ACA means to MILLIONS of us... Follow me over the orange cruller for more details:
When I first entered the wild and wooly "Land of the Individual Policy", my first policy cost about $349 per month, with what I thought were reasonable compromises for deductibles and coverage limits.
As the years passed on, I noticed an alarming trend for my renewal premiums to head up like a rocket each renewal, while the services included started to plummet earthwards like a stone. from what I am reading in comments by others, this was apparently NORMAL for the individual plans.
During my time being insured, I used my benefits rarely, and mostly for the occasional test needed during a checkup visit, and don't recall EVER using MAJOR benefits.
But at my next renewal, I was unceremoniously offered a NEW premium, $800 PER MONTH, with a ridiculous annual deductible of about $10,000, and some other limits I honestly cannot remember at this time. But the policy wasn't great
I could not afford $800/mo, so I quietly dropped my coverage, having NO choice but to "run the risk" of going without, as many do when faced with similar unaffordable premiums.
A few years later, when the beginning symptoms of old-age diseases started to surface, I got scared and immediately contacted my insurer again to re-up, only to be told that I had been "red-lined" because I had dropped my previous coverage. And, oh , now we KNOW you have a pre-existing condition - so, sorry, NO insurance for YOU!
This took place in 2008 - I have been living in deathly fear of a major medical catastrophe ever since, and in 2011, it happened.
Alarming symptoms began to creep up on me, and got so bad that I when I talked to my primary care physician (who I could no longer afford to see often enough to have caught this early) he basically said: "You have congestive heart failure, and it will kill you - you have ONE choice - without insurance, you HAVE to head for the ER at the County Health Service, and GO NOW".
I did - and bless 'em, they admitted me within 15 minutes, being well aware of the gravity of my medical condition, and the serious nature of any delay. I spent a week in-hospital, admitted for the dangerous cardiac condition, and also because of a urological condition that complicated the course of treatment for the cardiac condition - the double whammy.
During that week, I encountered the BEST and WORST of health care practitioners - wonderful nurses and doctors who truly cared, and lackluster/hostile nurses in the surgical recovery unit where I spent the TWO WORST DAYS AND NIGHTS I have EVER experienced. But they saved my life.
I didn't WANT to rely on the County for medical care, but I had no choice - I just couldn't afford insurance - and I was damned glad the County health service was there!
It took a YEAR to get healed from both of my conditions, but as a bonus, the surgery that was undertaken to fix my urological condition nearly killed me when it led to uncontrolled internal bleeding.
I was taken to a local for-profit hospital against my will by the local EMS, who said they could NOT take me to the county health service where I already had coverage!. It took ANOTHER serious surgical procedure to repair the surgery botched by the County health service.
When it was all done, I got a bill for $85K for the original County services, and another bill for $60K from the local hospital (for a 4-day admission)
So here's my take on the ACA controvery, from someone who is still too young for Medicare, still currently uninsured, and definitely getting on in years:
I WANT Obamacare
I am one of MILLIONS who NEED Obamacare
I an THRILLED that I may FINALLY be able to obtain insurance again without having to deal with any of the issues that have excluded me from coverage since 2008!
But Republicans want to KILL the ACA before I can get insurance!
So to all the Republicans who have been working hard to KILL the ACA, or REPEAL/UNFUND it, now that millions of us are FINALLY SO close to obtaining the health insurance we have DESPERATELY WANTED and needed, I say the following:
SHAME ON YOU HEARTLESS BASTARDS!
Many of you profess to be "Christians", but YOUR glee and zeal in trying to repeal/de-fund the ACA is a most UN-Christian like behavior.
Yammering endlessly about how the flawed website launch proves the underlying law isn't workable is just so much BULL.
When Medicare Part D launched, it was screwed up too but Democrats worked WITH REPUBLICANS TO MAKE IT WORK FOR THE COUNTRY!
When Romneycare launched in Mass, it took TWO YEARS to get all the website issues worked out - but Romneycare was NEVER called an unworkable failure.
As for the ACA itself, you all in the GOP/T need to SHUT UP and GET OVER IT - the ACA is law of the land, and you haven't been able to kill it. You need to remember that you work for We, The People - NOT just your wealthy campaign contributors - you work for ALL of us! The MILLIONS of uninsured folks like ME, who NEED the ACA.
Either be a part of the REAL SOLUTION, or resign your seat and GO HOME! Regardless, we voters will settle your fate in 2014.