Before our COBRA coverage ended last month, Hart and I spent months scrambling to find health insurance to cover us until the pre-existing condition coverage of the Affordable Care Act goes into effect in January 2014. Our experience was even more complicated than expected and brought home just how faulty the current health care system is.
Having been denied coverage by every health insurance company in Arizona, private health insurance isn’t an option. We couldn’t even get a high-deductible plan.
After tons of research, it looked like we were down to two options: joining a small business organization’s group plan and spending more than $1,000 a month for a plan with a $10,000 deductible per person and high co-pays or enrolling in classes at a community college and paying for student health insurance.
The first option tied our stomachs in knots. That’s a major financial burden even if we are both perfectly healthy for the next six months. And spending that much money for mediocre coverage wasn’t palatable.
The student health insurance is far more appealing, but coverage doesn’t begin until August. Hart and I both like to have our ducks in tidy rows when it comes to this sort of thing. The thought of going even a month without insurance would have us both losing sleep. Even though the chances of getting injured in an accident, having a stroke, or having a heart attack are small, they risk is enough to worry both of us.
More distressing is that the plan is being rewritten to comply with the Affordable Care Act and details have yet to be released. We have no idea how many credit hours we’d have to take, what the coverage would be, or how much it will cost. All we know is that it will look different than previous years’ plans.
Then an entrepreneur Hart knows mentioned that she had short-term health insurance that didn’t cover pre-existing conditions, but does cover new diagnoses or accidents. We didn’t qualify for some plans, but did find one company that would provide us six months of coverage at less than $250 a month. Migraine’s not covered for either of us, of course, but we’re less likely to go bankrupt if one of us has a catastrophic health problem in the next six months. It isn’t an ideal solution, but it is way less expensive than the alternatives (and than what we paid for COBRA) and, fortunately, Hart and I both currently have prescriptions for only generic drugs.
We’re now on the short-term insurance, so we’re covered until four days before Obamacare goes into effect — assuming politics don’t derail it. (We’re planning to spend the last four days of the cooped up at home, doing nothing so dangerous as using a ladder.) Some sort of health coverage is guaranteed come January, though we won’t know until October what our coverage options will be or how much we will have to spend.
Last June, Hart and I both fretted while we waited for the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act. Then we worried that if Romney won the presidential election and succeeded in repealing Obamacare, we’d have to abandon TheraSpecs so Hart could get a corporate job with health insurance. Whatever your politics, its undeniable that a system that won’t provide health coverage to people who are willing to pay through the nose for it is defective. Especially considering that, while we aren’t in perfect health, neither of us has a disease that’s particular expensive to treat. Triptans aren’t cheap, but they cost pennies compared to chemotherapy or $15,000-a-month injections for MS.
The costs and benefits of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare won’t truly be known for years. It may not be an ideal solution, but the system that’s concentrated in for-profit companies and ties health coverage to employment is way out of whack. The next few years — or even decades — could be rocky, but I’m hopeful we’re on the way toward improving the impoverished approach we currently have.
And I’m grateful that Obamacare’s existence means we can keep TheraSpecs, a company that seeks to improve the lives of people in pain, going.
4 thoughts on “Health Insurance Stressors”
Parin, I don’t agree with your assessment, but we’ll see how it goes. Am curious to see how it all falls into place once the entire law has taken effect and the details shake out.
Judy, thanks for the support. I keep reading about how much misinformation and misunderstanding there is about the law. I hope that once it’s in place the benefits will be embraced.
My response is to the first comment you received on the ACA Kerri. I am also thankful for Obamacare and when I read things that are not true about it I feel a need to get the facts which I have done. There is so much misinformation out there and people need to know that it is a step in the right direction. Getting rid of pre-existing conditions is a great start that everyone should look forward to in January.
You really need to get the facts on ACA.
Starting January 1st of 2014, the following “benefits” must be included under all insurance plans:
• Emergency services
• Laboratory services
• Maternity care
• Mental health and substance abuse treatment
• Outpatient, or ambulatory care
• Pediatric care
• Prescription drugs
• Preventive care
• Rehabilitative and habilitative (helping maintain daily functioning) services
• Vision and dental care for children
Obamacare will not solve the pre-existing problem. It will make many things worse.
My married daughter discovered that her insurance had decided that, rather than be required to cover pregnancy as pre-existing, they would simply not cover pregnancy at all. That’s right, the health insurance company decided they simply *would no longer cover* the conditions previously designated as requiring a pre-existing waiting period. No coverage for pregnancy under any circumstances.
My daughter had been covered long enough to complete the pre-existing waiting period so she would have been covered. Now, she has no pregnancy insurance of any sort.
The affordable Care Act is a tax on people who have no health insurance. It was always that, and the Supreme Court did not (nor could have) changed it into universal healthcare. It’s a revenue-generating device. No one will suddenly obtain health care who did not seek it before but people without minimum sufficient coverage will be assessed a tax that IRS will collect.
I’m studying complementary, alternative and traditional health care as I am able (As of July 10th I own a titanium plate and 5 titanium screws in my ankle so nothing is happening very fast. Thank you, vertigo from Meniere’s combined with slippery steps!). At this time I don’t plan to change insurance but rest assured, I *will* be able to treat myself come Obamacare or high water.
I’m sorry we’re all having to go through this. I do not foresee anything in Western health care getting better.