I last had employer health insurance when I worked full time for the UCB in 2005. I had cobra insurance for as long as I could after I quit, but that ran out in 2006. At the time, I didn’t think it was a huge deal. I anticipated getting another job soon or getting insurance as a freelancer.
Over the next few years, I was able to make a living by being self employed. But I never had good health insurance again. I was denied coverage because of a previous condition, a sleep apnea. And once I was denied coverage, it was impossible to buy my own private insurance.
I did buy these 6 month policies every once in a while. They did not cover pre-existing conditions and they did not roll over, meaning if I got sick during one 6 month period, that would then become a pre-existing condition for the next 6 months. In other words, it was pretty crappy insurance that would not protect me if I got a serious, protracted health problem. These plans are among the ones that can’t be offered anymore, because frankly, they suck.
Then the Affordable Care Act was passed and I hoped that I would not become sick before January of 2014. I was lucky. I haven’t had any serious illnesses in the last few years. And I made it. Last week, I used healthcare.gov to enroll in a health care plan for the first time in 7 years. My insurance begins on Jan 1.
Apparently, I’m just above the income line that I would be able to get a subsidy, so I’m paying for it all by myself. But it’s a relief to know that when I get sick in the future, I’ll have access to good doctors and that I’ll be protected from losing everything if something terrible does happen.
Although the ACA isn’t perfect and it’s not what I’d have preferred (I think some kind of single payer plan would have worked much better), I’m grateful for the opportunity to buy into a healthcare plan.
If you don’t have coverage through work, I strongly encourage you to at least go through the initial steps and see what plans are available. You may be surprised how affordable it is. And you still have time to enroll this week and get coverage by January 1st.