In 2010, when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, I was not overly concerned because my wife had a job with benefits I was a dialysis patient on Medicare. I had heard about the horror stories as well as the success stories, but still I had no worries since it didn’t adversely affect my family.
Fast forward six years, and my wife lost her job. When she found new work, her employer didn’t offer benefits. For the first time in six years of the ACA, we were faced with having to carry insurance on my wife and little did I know the frustration that would be in my future.
Having insurance for my wife is a crucial thing because she received a diagnosis in 2005 that makes having access to medical care crucial. But as we searched the frustration set in. We turned to an insurance advisor who specialized in health care and she truly opened our eyes. The change in our income made it not feasible to pay huge monthly premiums for her insurance. With our limited budget, the only thing we could afford was $150 /month; but the down side was the $6,000 deductible that we would have to pay up front. With my wife’s prescription costing over $1,400 /month, there was no way we could afford that, so what were we to do? We looked at every option (even applying for Medicaid for her) but of course she made too much money to qualify for assistance of any kind. Here we were stuck in the proverbial “between a rock and a hard place” with no good options. On one hand, we could pay a monthly premium that fit our budget and get nothing for it, or do nothing and be punished by the government and fined because we couldn’t afford the ridiculous deductible.
While I understand that the ACA did help some people which is supposed to be what politicians do, I just could not fathom the fact that you were punished and fined if you chose not to enroll. I don’t know about anyone else, but when you require a law to force people to procure health care or face fines if they don’t (or can’t afford it), how is this helping anyone? Isn’t this just a bullying tactic to force health care on everyone and to make politicians look good who themselves will never have to worry about being forced to do something against their will? If it is so great, then why does it hurt so many?
Tony Brown is 49 years old and a 34-year veteran of living kidney disease. He has had one kidney transplant and has spent 20 years on dialysis. He lives in Portage, Michigan with his wife of eight years, Cyndi. They have three children and four grandchildren.