From 2000 to 2008, I took a very personal interest in politics, in part because the Health Insurance industry's successful effort to label "Gore a Liar" and Select Bush (spearheaded by their media tool Ceci Connelly formerly of the Washington Post until she was rewarded with an industry job in the industry she serviced so well) kept this nation from enacting health care reform for another decade. That meant another decade of insane health insurance company profits, denials of care and suffering for those who were priced out of the market for the crime of actually having an illness.
When I was a stay at home mom taking care of my son and we were living off savings and my husband's income as a massage therapist, the cost of health insurance premiums for the three of us and the huge deductibles and out of pockets ate us alive---literally. My son ( asthma) and husband (diabetes) were dropped by our regular insurance and could only get high risk pool insurance. That meant $1500 a month premiums---and a $5000 deductible for each of them each year. We depleted our savings. We wracked up huge debts---for more or less routine care of common problems. I accelerated my return to work as a physician because I needed the health insurance.
How bad was it without group health? We ended up getting a mortgage on our house (it was paid off) just to pay the portions of medical bills that were not covered by the insurance that we paid so much to maintain. And neither my son nor my husband was what you would call massively sick. My husband had diabetes---controlled. He had surgery for a kidney stone. My son had asthma. He was in the hospital three times. No one was on dialysis. No one needed a transplant. But every year we managed to meet every single deductible.
Today, I calculated what our payments would be under the ACA if we were making the annual income we were back then. For a silver plan with a $500 deductible, our whole family would pay out of pocket (I think I am going to faint) $200 a month. How can this be the same America? We were paying over $2000 a month--and then we would have to pay out an extra $10000 a year just to use the insurance. Under the ACA, we could pay $200 a month and use it right away.
Obviously, for people in their 50s with pre-exiting conditions like diabetes who are in the middle income bracket and who would never dream of going without health insurance even if it means getting another mortgage, ACA is a dream come true. It is sanity.
And--get this---even if I decided to drop my group plan now and buy individual insurance and even though I would not get a a federal subsidy (not on a physician's salary) I can insure my whole family with a $500 deductible for about $1000 a month--less than I was paying for my husband and son alone with the $5000 deductible.
So yes, the Affordable Care Act is an enormous success for middle income America, especially for those with such "chronic" conditions as high blood pressure, allergies, acne and all the other minor illnesses that health insurers have used as excuses to jack up rates. There are some kinks to get worked out. And we need to do something about the 24 states that would rather see their citizens die than accept the Medicaid money. But ACA is exactly what we needed---back in 2001. Bless Ceci Connelly's lying little heart.