In April 2008, I stopped drinking alcohol. When Mimi left her job, and her group health insurance plan, in November 2009 I suddenly became one of the 50 million uninsured Americans. But thanks to the Affordable Care Act – or “Obamacare” if you’re of a particular political persuasion – I now have health insurance coverage.
I have a family history of alcoholism and in 2008 decided I wanted to stop drinking. But it was harder than I thought. So I decided to visit my primary care physician and she prescribed Lexapro, an anti-depressant medication. After one dose, I lost my craving for alcohol. After thirty days, I stopped taking it and haven’t had a drink since.
Good news, right? Not if you want to purchase health insurance on the open marketplace. When we gave up our group health coverage, our insurance company declined to cover me citing my past history of “substance abuse and anxiety.” Fortunately, I was able to continue coverage through COBRA temporarily; that company dropped me after a payment was 3 days late.
For the last 18 months I’ve been without any health insurance coverage. After much prodding, our health insurance company did eventually offer me a policy that cost $1,500 per month with a $10,000 out-of-pocket deductible. I declined, hoping that the health care reform law passed by Congress in 2010 would kick in before I suffered any grave medical problem.
And that’s exactly what happened. This summer, I learned about the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) that was created as part of the health care reform law. Organized by the states and federal government, it provides coverage to someone like me who’s had difficulty getting coverage in the past. It’s not free, but at $168 a month it’s affordable.
I’ve worked in health care for nearly 20 years. During that time I’d heard from many people with diabetes, epilepsy and cancer and the difficulties they’d faced in obtaining health insurance. But losing my health insurance because I stopped drinking alcohol? I never thought in a million years my life would be at risk for making the (seemingly) right decision about my personal health.
So the next time you hear people decry “Obamacare” and how it’s taking away your personal liberties, think again. You just may be in my shoes some day.
Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: | affordable care act, Case Study, health care reform, healthcare reform, joseph lamountain, obamacare, PCIP, pre-existing condition insurance plan, president obama, success story