Last week, we asked for your personal Obamacare horror stories, as more and more middle class families are forced to surrender their dignity and grovel before government for their health insurance. Here is the latest from Charles in Alabama. You can email me your story at [email protected].
I am a 53 year old self-employed real estate agent. My wife and I own a small real estate company which has struggled through the economic climate to build our business. From the income that we generate, we must pay all our business expenses, including the monthly costs of a real estate office, all the technology and fees we need to exist, all of our personal and business insurance, and all of our personal expenses as well. We have two sons who are approaching college age and both plan to attend state public universities, where the average four year cost has been estimated at over $100,000. I work seven days a week, every week; I only attempt to take a day off work about one day a month. I work at least 10 hours most days, but it is not unusual for me to work longer hours.
I have been blessed with great health, as have my wife and our two boys. I work very hard to stay healthy; I have never smoked, consumed much alcohol, or done drugs. I eat a healthy diet, and the one and only thing I do for myself every week is to exercise- almost daily. When I come home after a long day, I typically go for a 45 minute run or work out at the gym, grab a quick bite of dinner, and then get back to work again from my second office at home.
I have struggled to pay $735 per month to Blue Cross Blue Shield for health care insurance for my family, but I am a believer that it is important to guard against catastrophe, so I have paid that large amount, completely out of pocket, ever since going into business for myself. This means I write a personal check for the entire amount every month.
We received our Affordable Care Act letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield this week, and were informed that our new monthly premium starting January 1, for much reduced benefits, will rise from $735 to $1,114.61, with our yearly deductible tripling; this monthly premium is more than my house payment. Upon further investigation, we have found that for our benefits to stay the same as they are today, our premium would be about $1,600 per month. The cheapest alternative for us in an ACA compliant policy is $870 per month, with a yearly deductible of $12,700; in this plan, our family would have the ability to go to a doctor three times in a year (per family) and pay a co-pay; after that, all medical expenses would come 100% out of pocket until the deductible was met. Under that scenario, I don’t foresee any circumstance where any of us would ever again get health screenings, or participate in tests such as colonoscopies. Preventative medicine will no longer be an option for us.
I have struggled to understand how this law is fair. I am now compelled by federal law to pay for this enormously expensive product that I cannot afford. I have searched all my alternatives, and there is no other solution available to me; apparently my place on the actuarial tables is dictated solely by my age and address, and since I am over 50 but under Medicare age I am in a worst case scenario. In the ACA world, “old and sick” are two words that are glued together, as are “young and healthy”. Fortunately, I am an old and healthy person; but my healthy lifestyle means nothing anymore.
I am not being petty about this; the absolute fact is that we cannot afford to pay for health insurance at the rates available to us under the Affordable Care Act. For the only time in our lives, we will most likely be joining the uninsured, taking a huge risk, and paying the federal tax penalty. This is ironic for us, because in all these years, the only major cost we have been to the insurance companies has been the birth of two healthy babies; yet now, as we are approaching the age when we may start needing treatments and more preventative care, we will be dangerously flying by the seat of our pants.
I understand that there have been people in our shoes for a long time, and some may be smugly smiling about this, thinking that now we are getting an idea of how that feels. It no longer counts for anything that we have worked extremely hard to get where we are; we have done things the right way, making good decisions, taking advantage of opportunities, and always working hard. And most importantly, we were promised by President Obama that the ACA wouldn’t significantly harm the people already in the system; that it was an attempt to insure the uninsured, not to completely take away our health care insurance in the process.
I am being crushed under the weight of this financial burden. My enthusiasm for fulfilling my dream of creating a thriving, vibrant business is fading. Any money we may have contributed back to the economy, such as replacing our car that has over 150,000 miles on it, is gone. It feels like there will never be circumstances where I can benefit from all my hard work; instead, my hard earned money will be distributed out to other people. I want to live in a world where sick babies are taken care of, all the time, but with this “solution” came the clear promise that the Affordable Care Act could do that without burying me. ACA proponents were either mistaken or deliberately misled us, the American people.
I respectfully ask President Obama to at least acknowledge what this is. He will never know how demoralizing it is to see smiling faces from his ranks telling me through my television that the Affordable Care Act is good; a fabulous, raging success. It is because of great restraint that my television isn’t in a shattered heap in the den floor right now.
I respectfully ask that all sides stop using me as a political pawn; I don’t care whose fault in Washington this is. President Obama, please become a leader. Members of Congress, please step up to the plate and work together to fix this disaster. Stop gauging every single move based on how it will affect you politically. Our nation needs your leadership, and I pray that you will see that one day before it’s too late.