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Adventures of a stay-at-home, skeptical, homeschooling dad (etc.)



I have a little story. Once upon a time, I quit my job so my wife could go to pharmacy school and I could be at home with my daughter. We'd live off our ample savings, but quitting my job meant losing our insurance, and we went without for several years. Then I began to get nervous, and found a cheap "disaster plan": it had a highish deductible, but everything after that was covered at 100%, so if I had a heart attack, go cancer, or got hit by a car, we wouldn't have to fork over every penny we had. The plan was about $130 a month for me and my daughter. (My wife was covered through school at about $100 a month.) We rarely went to the doctor/hospital, so it didn't matter too much.

Then came the ACA, AKA the Affordable Care Act, AKA "Obamacare". At first there was big talk about public options and limits etc. It might look like a good plan? But then some of the good stuff gets thrown out the window, and… everyone is now required to pay a private company? Hmmm. However, I shouldn't have much to worry about: I had cheap insurance, and everyone was promised they could keep their existing plans if they liked them…

Soon after the ACA went into effect, however, we got a notice from our insurance provider: our plan didn't meet ACA requirements, so it was not being reissued. A new plan was available… for $300 a month. I tried to shop around, but I couldn't find an equivalent of our old cheap plan, so we got to pay more than double of what we previously did! Yay! The plan offered more and covered more, but the deductaile was still high, and we weren't going to meet the deductible unless a disaster hit us. And so when we did go to the doctor, we always ended up with a hefty bill for things that weren't covered, or were barely covered.

The next year, the same thing happens: our plan was being phased out, and now we had the pleasure of "upgrading" our plan to spend almost $500 a month for services we'd likely never use. Again, I tried to shop around, and I even used the "market place", but nothing was cheaper. And around this time, my son was born, so we got to tack on another person, so now we were paying well over $500 a month.

I let a year go by while we continuously shoveled our precious money at an insurance plan that never seemed to cover all that much. We ended up with nice big bills from the birth and all the copious doctor visits a newborn entails.

Finally, this past year, I took a look at our now-much-more-limited finances, and the $6000+ a year we were practically throwing into a furnace, and said "enough"…

I never wanted to sign up for government healthcare assistance. I mean, I'm unemployed mostly by choice, and it seemed wrong, but:

1) my wife's nearly done with her pharmacy degree, so it makes little sense to abandon our plan now.

2) we've already involuntarily sent multiple tens of thousands of dollars into a system we've barely used.

3) when my wife gets her dream job, we'll be paying tons back into the system.

4) and most importantly, we are unable to afford healthcare because the rates had almost quadrupled due do to the government plan that was supposed to help us.

so… I signed us up for our state's medicare ("Kancare"), and I don't feel a bit bad about receiving those benefits.

It mostly works out: most prescriptions, doctor's visits and hospital visits are no charge. The only drawback is that many places don't accept it, so I had to call several places after we recently moved before I found a doctor.

In march, when I had my hernia surgery and my wife had her miscarriage, the hospital bills would have been pretty steep, but even so, our old "ACA-approved" insurance plan wouldn't have covered much of it. We'd still be out thousands, and would be entirely unable to pay it (at least for a year or two, even if I found work immediately).

So anyway, I would fully support a real nation-wide "single payer" healthcare plan, or some other big reform, but the ACA didn't really pan out for us. I did approve of the "no pre-existing conditions" rule, etc, of course, but gifting the insurance companies with extra customers and extra premium cash maybe wasn't the best plan. I don't believe "Trumpcare" will be better -it seems to take away the few good things the ACA offered- but I'm not going to be looking back at "Obamacare" with rose-colored glasses, either.

2017-05-17 #politics