I was a huge supporter of Obama. Honestly, I still think he's a good guy working in a shit system. There's something to be said for the fact that every President ages 20 years in four or eight. But one of the things I was most hopeful for is that President Obama would come in on a white steed and get us single payer healthcare. I was upset when it quickly became apparent that was absolutely NOT going to happen.
Why? Why couldn't we step up and take heed from our neighbors up north? Why couldn't we at least have the healthcare that Canada does? (And for everyone who chimes in with the "they have waiting lists for ...." I will say that when you don't have insurance, you're essentially on a waiting list that never ends -- you just NEVER get healthcare that you need.)
But, I realized that getting any sort of healthcare/insurance reform was something to be optimistic about. Maybe, I too, could get healthcare.
Let me have a sidebar for a moment. This blog is ostensibly about mental health issues. And I have well-documented and diagnosed manic-depression. That meant that prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I was 1. deemed uninsurable by mainstream insurance for having a pre-existing condition and 2. when I would look into the "state risk pool" where diabetics, people with cancer, and the bipolar babies go, it was way too expensive. I was considerably priced out. I already live paycheck to paycheck, which is a problem, but to pay $600 for insurance that had a $2000 deductible -- meant I didn't have insurance.
Back to the ACA: Things were bandied about back and forth; arguments for and against. Screams of "death panels" and how our economy was going to be ruined. I was still smarting from the slap of not being able to get single payer healthcare, but knew all of that shit was cray. There was a timeline issued -- 2014 was the year when everyone was supposed to have mandated coverage.
Finally, in October 2013, healthcare.gov was released. And so many people were clamoring for it, that it crashed. More bitching and moaning. I stayed back and silently shook my head. This was the ONE thing. It was their ONE job. Why didn't they have this thing in tip-top shape? But, it spoke volumes -- obviously, a lot of people need/ed healthcare.
By this time, I was dubious about everything. If it was about tax credits and paying out of pocket, I was screwed. In a sick way, I was happy that my income was so low that I'd have to qualify for Medicaid. That would solve everything and I wouldn't have to worry about money. I navigated the website in October and filled out an application (or so I thought). In November, I called back to find that I hadn't actually submitted it or something random. An application was formalized and finished in November. I got notice that in order to qualify for Medicaid, my application would have to be transferred to the state.
I managed to get a hold of someone in the State of Illinois in January. Sounds like things were in motion. I'd find out if I qualified for Medicaid and what happened from there. In March, the deadline to get in on open enrollment was coming up quickly. I still hadn't heard from anyone either way. I called the State of IL, only to find out that due to some delay in processing my original application, instead of marking the day by January or something, I was now put into their huge queue of people ... which they were something like two months behind on.
Well, "no news is good news," I think, and resign myself to the waiting game. I haven't had insurance for years, so what's a few more months? Not much, really.
I finally got a letter that said ... nope. No Medicaid for you. I reeled. Really? How could that be? Did they not look at my last year's tax return? As I am wont to do with news that seems catastrophic, I froze. I was paralyzed. I did nothing. Why bother?
Well, last week I decided ... hey, I should look into that insurance thing that I'm supposed to sign up for. I tried to get into my Healthcare.gov account, and reset my password, but it still wouldn't work. Fuck it.
But I tried again, talked to someone on the phone, and they got me in. I was now able to browse plans. With the tax credit (which IS immediately applied to the price), legit, PPO, BCBSIL health insurance with NO deductible .... is $33 dollars. Add a dental plan to come to a grand total of $60 a month.
Whoa. That's doable. That's really fucking doable. And the plan is a real plan. Co-pays and prescriptions and specialists and all. I have real group insurance at an affordable rate. I can't believe it. I'm here to testify that for all the doubting and bullshit even I went through -- it's real.
I don't know about anyone else. I don't know what your experience will be like. But let me tell you, that as per usual, my fear was much larger than the actual experience. I really have health insurance, and it's all because of the Affordable Care Act -- Obamacare. Thanks, Obama!
Keep up with my head ... type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. You will NEVER get anything else from me (no SPAM, and you can opt out at any time).