By all rights, I shouldn't be sitting here writing this blog today.
We've got to go back a bit for the convoluted tale, but there's Bushes, Healthcare Reform, Safety nets, and a big dose of luck involved in this one.
I used to work for "President" Bush's cousin. He runs a revenue-cycle management company up here in this Commonwealth, and believe me, at one point in time we thought we were the next big thing. It didn't quite happen, but things were still humming along.
We had great insurance in those days. Something called "HMO Blue", a product of Blue Cross / Blue Shield of Massachusetts. It was the best of both worlds; when we went to in-network providers, we had a broad selection of options, and copays weren't that bad. We could go out-of-network if we needed to for specialty care, or whilst travelling....of course with a much heftier increase in fees.
In any case....we merrily went about our lives, and doctor's visits became what they should be. Routine and affordable. Of course, the insurance itself wasn't overly cheap, but since I worked in the industry, we got a 60/40 split on it, which is far better than the usual 80/20 these days.
Fast-forward a few years, and you well remember what happened in February of 2008...I lost that job in a re-organization. Fortunately, the new President had just passed the stimulus bill, and with it was a provision for subsidies for COBRA coverage. I had unemployment, food stamps, and insurance, so I wasn't overly worried, despite the state of the economy at the time.
But then months went by. And then years. I bounced from job to job; temping here, contracting there. Over time, we couldn't afford insurance anymore, and then I made literally pennies too much to qualify for food stamps. And since I was
working, unemployment wasn't a factor.
You know Governor Romney pushed through his healthcare reform program in this state. Legally, we *had* to buy insurance. But at the time, I simply couldn't afford it. I looked, but to buy individual insurance would have cost almost as much as our monthly rent, and there was no way in hell that was going to happen.
Both Javi and Maria have chronic health issues, so we still had to do something. Fortunately, we qualified for Masshealth (Medicaid) for a monthly pittance, so at least we had coverage there. As for myself, I never signed up. I became that guy Ron Paul talked about, rolling the dice without any coverage of any kind.
Almost two years ago now, I finally got a full-time, permanent position with a small billing company. I looked at the insurance options, and once again they were impossible. I don't even know what the split was there, but it was probably close to 90/10, so of course I couldn't afford that. We went another year on Medicaid, and I kept hoping my luck would hold. Shortly before I left that company, word came down that the insurance provider had re-negotiated the contract, and premiums would be going up
by about 25%. Endgame there.
So now I land at Fallon Community Health Plan
in Central Massachusetts. Sitting through orientation, I couldn't get over how rich the benefit was. The employee/company split doesn't even enter the equation. Not only did we get Fallon's top-of-the-line coverage, they also threw in a number of subsidies and incentives to sweeten the pot and reduce my costs further.
Which is a good thing. Five months on the job, and all this happens. But everything is covered, and thus far I have paid exactly $0 out of pocket for my care.
Looking at my luck, it's quite simple. Had this happened even 6 months ago...I know how I am. Abdominal discomfort would have irritated me, but I would have started popping over-the-counter remedies until my appendix burst, and who knows what would have happened then? And that doesn't even begin to consider the cancer diagnosis.
I could go on and on now about the ACA and what it means for my future. We can argue about pre-existing conditions and all the other good things in the plan until we're blue in the face.
What ACA meant for me was a job with insurance. Despite what the GOP tells you, ACA has created a boom in the insurance industry. Medicaid business has absolutely taken off since the law was signed; many companies in this Commonwealth are barely keeping up with demand, and are hiring like crazy. I firmly believe I have one of those jobs.
When my beloved Senator Kennedy passed, I wrote a brief blog about how legislation he crafted helped to create the industry that I'm in, and I probably owe him for my career.
President Obama and the Affordable Care Act...probably saved my life.
(pssst....thanks, Raine. This blog was your idea.)