I know there are other people who face much more serious and immediate consequences than I should the ACA be repealed. But I thought I would share my experiences as proof of how the ACA affects even those in mundane circumstances.
I am currently very fortunate. I currently have health insurance through my workplace and if the ACA is repealed, I will still have insurance. But should I lose that job, I know from experience I would not have health insurance without the ACA.
Years before the ACA, my job situation changed, and I needed to get health insurance on my own. I thought it would be no problem. I was already getting it for my husband. I am significantly younger than him, so it should have been simple. I was entirely wrong.
I was in my early 30’s. I was healthy. And I was solidly middle class. I could afford insurance. I wanted insurance. I was who insurance companies should want to insure. Except I had two minor pre-existing conditions. That was enough to prevent me from being able to obtain insurance.
I have hypothyroidism, which is treated with a single pill once per day. The pill is fairly inexpensive. Even right now, I am encouraged by my pharmacy to pay for the medication out of my own pocket because it is cheaper than paying my insurance co-pay. I also have pernicious anemia, which means I cannot digest B-12. So once per month, I have to get the vitamin by shot. That also is fairly inexpensive, and I could, if necessary, give myself the shot. The overall costs for me having these medications probably came out to between $10 – $20/month if I were paying for them without insurance coverage, something I was completely prepared to do, if necessary. There is no extra cost for monitoring these conditions. That routine bloodwork is already part of most women’s yearly physical.
When I went looking for insurance, I expected to be told that my premiums would be a bit higher because of these conditions. I had budgeted for that. I was not expecting to be told that most insurance providers would not even consider insuring me. The only one that would, I was told, would be an insurer that did its own underwriting. That pretty much narrowed down my choice of provider to BCBS.
So I got quotes from them. Even the bare minimum insurance with no prescription coverage that BCBS offered me was completely out of my price range. It was more than double what my husband was paying. More than double the extra I had budgeted for the anticipated increased premiums. (As I recall, this was over 12 years ago, and the proposed premium was about $800/month). And it would not even be covering most of the cost associated with my actual conditions.
So I went without insurance for a while. I know from personal experience how lucky I was not to need insurance during that period. The unforeseen can happen at any time: an unexpected car accident, that trip to the ER because of a severe case of stomach flu when you are away from home, a trip and fall when walking in the park that leads to a plate being put in your arm.
I was also extremely fortunate to later find a job that provided me with health insurance. If I did not have that job and there was no ACA, I don’t doubt that I would not be able to afford insurance. Again, I was healthy, solidly middle-class and ready, willing and able to pay for reasonable insurance. I was the kind of person the system actually needed. I would have paid premiums for coverage I would most likely not need. As for the costs of my limited pre-existing conditions, I could have paid for them myself, and they would have easily been covered by a slightly higher premium. But instead, I got offered insurance at an extremely high (unaffordable) premium.
So I know from experience that the old system was broken, and, if I had to get health insurance for myself without the ACA, I would not be able to afford it and have to do without. The ACA helps more than just those in extreme cases. It helps Jane Average middle-class American too.