When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was first introduced in 2009, I was fully employed and our family was covered by my employer’s health care plan since my husband was self-employed. Since we were covered, the ACA was not directly affecting my family. But in November 2013 I was laid off from my job, after nine years with the company. Having not only my husband but also four children on my coverage, we had to switch gears and take quick action. The COBRA was not affordable because we were down to one income (commission income, at that) until I was able to find employment. I knew that I was not savvy enough to try and secure insurance coverage through the insurance marketplace on my own so we reached out to an insurance agent who was proficient in navigating through the Health Care Marketplace and she was able to secure affordable insurance coverage for our family.
Having the option of insurance through the Affordable Care Act allowed our family to continue health insurance coverage while searching for a new job with benefits. Unfortunately, before I was able to find a new job, my husband was diagnosed with cancer and end-stage renal disease (ESRD). His ESRD diagnosis qualified him for Medicare, but that still left the rest of us on our own. Our insurance agent helped me secure insurance for the rest of the family. Our payments were very affordable and we as a family did not miss one month of not being insured. As of today, we still have our insurance coverage through the Marketplace and in fact the premium has decreased from an initial amount of $355 per month (in 2014) to $147 per month (for me and my daughter.)
The Affordable Care Act in and of itself is not the ‘disaster’ that so many people make it out to be. Yes, there will be challenges for some. However, the access to affordable health care to millions who would otherwise not have any insurance outweighs the challenges some may face. Our family is not considered ‘poor’ or ‘destitute’ or any other negative label people want to associate with those who benefit from this legislation. For us and millions of others facing extenuating circumstances (loss of employment, family illness, etc.), access to health care through the Marketplace has sustained our health and wellness. It is designed to help, which has been proven by the millions who are currently benefiting from its existence.
Marilyn Haymon is 56 years old and lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia. She has four children and three grandchildren. Her husband lost his battle with kidney disease after 18 months on dialysis, both home and in-center. Because he had cancer, having a kidney transplant was never an option for him. Although he lost the battle, he was a true champion and they could fight together without having to worry about affordable health care coverage.