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Monday, November 26, 2012

Obamacare and the Election

This is a consumer guest blog from Casey Quinlan.

I have always been a dutiful voter, and have cast a ballot in every election since … well, long ago. This year, 2012, I cared deeply about the results of the races on my ballot. So as the hours of November 6 waned, I occupied myself with not looking at my MacBook, or my smartphone, or TV news. I went to bed without checking to see how the results were unfolding. At 4:15am, I snapped awake, and grabbed my phone.

When I saw that Barack Obama had been re-elected, I sighed in relief. Passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act/healthcare reform/Obamacare, the first legislation that tackles the massive mess that is the US healthcare system, was something that gave me hope for the future—mine, and everyone else’s.

I am one of the uninsured. Without a change in the health insurance marketplace, given my battle with cancer in 2008—the last year I had health insurance—my access to health insurance would require a premium outlay of more than $2,000 per month, and a $5,000 deductible. For the math-challenged, that’s $24,000 out of pocket for premiums, and I’d have to spend another $5,000 on health care costs before insurance would pay Dollar One.

So I’ve gone without insurance since January 2009, given that it was completely unaffordable for me. Because there’s nothing like the combination of divorce and cancer to put your financial world on life support—trust me on that one. I’ve paid out of pocket for the health care I’ve needed and kept my fingers crossed against another visit from a “really big disease.” So far, so good, but that’s not a workable long-term plan.

Obamacare is a start—a start in a direction that is sorely needed. I’ll be able to access affordable health insurance and manage my health and health care more effectively because of it. Now that it will be fully implemented, under the administration that saw it through a hard-fought Capitol Hill wrangle, my history of cancer will not be an excuse for insurance companies to price me out, I’ll have options, and I’ll be able to afford insurance again.

Obamacare isn’t perfect. It addresses insurance costs, but in my opinion it doesn’t do enough to address health care costs themselves. But it’s a start. Now let’s get to work to make it better.