No matter how you or I feel about the “Affordable” Health Care Act aka Obamacare, there is an unfortunate truth: I need health insurance. I have gone the majority of my adult life without it – having it only briefly thanks to being a military spouse at one point. With each year that passes, my body makes sure to remind me in some way that some things are very wrong and in desperate need of being looked into. Hear me out and understand my perspective on why I have enrolled for Obamacare.
Before I tell you everything that is wrong with me, I want to make something very clear: I am not a moocher. There has only been one time in my life where I utilized government assistance and other localized programs to keep me afloat. At one time, I even qualified for and received food stamps that I refused to ever use because my financial situation changed so quickly after I received them. But I was very young and naive – I thought I needed help, but what I personally needed was to stop being lazy and get a very different kind of help that had nothing to do with money.
Understand that I 100% believe in the necessity of government funded assistance. There are people in this country who truly need it and could benefit wildly from it. And then there are people like myself who qualify for it, but don’t need it as badly as it would seem. There are people like myself who could benefit from it, but really have no business using it – no matter how little money I make. That is how I have felt about it for many years.
I am disabled.
I have been blind in my right eye since I was 2 weeks old. My eyeglass prescription gets worse every year and I currently carry the weight of frames hosting a set of -7.75 prescription strength lenses on my face. I won’t lie and say that life wouldn’t be infinitely more easy if I had the use of both eyes and better vision. There are jobs I am simply not cut out for because of this problem. That said, I can still hold down a job. I have proven it time and time again that my disability does not prevent me from getting and keeping a full time job.
While I do not have official papers diagnosing my sleep related issues, everything and including my sleep study evaluation from 2009 suggests that I have Narcolepsy. I’ve talked about it a couple of times on this blog and the affects it has on my job performance. But again, I have proven that despite it, I can work. I can hold down a job. There are things I have to do to work around my disability, but it’s possible.
I was diagnosed with Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome when I was 15 years old. As of this post, I haven’t had a menstrual cycle since August – and no, I am definitely not pregnant. This is an unfortunate reality for me and one of the biggest reasons that I need health insurance. There is something wrong with me in a way that I cannot see, cannot control or even manipulate. In 2014, I was in the hospital twice because a large cyst had burst and I was in such severe pain that I was completely unable to function. Compared to labor and child birth… well let’s just say that I’d rather deliver a 10 pound baby a dozen times.
I suffer from Plantar fasciitis. While I have been overweight my entire life, my first encounter with this foot problem was the seemingly direct result of wearing the wrong shoes to work at event at a retail establishment I worked at in 2013. I was on my feet for 11 hours in the wrong shoes, receiving only a 15 minute break. It was torture and I had trouble walking for days. It resulted in severe bruising under my toe nails that years later, still do not grow in correctly. Every morning, I have trouble walking until my feet work themselves back in. I am lucky to have a job now where I am on my feet less, but the stress I put them under at that previous job have resulted in problems that are likely permanent.
The Financial Reality Sucks.
I understand how Obamacare works. I understand that every American paying taxes, is paying something towards this program. I understand that based on the amount of money you make and what you are claiming on your taxes makes you “responsible” for what they refer to as your “fair share”. I recognize that this isn’t always as fair as we’d all like for it to be – taxes rarely are in my opinion.
I cannot afford health insurance. I can’t even afford what I personally believe should be my fair share (which is much more than the government says it should be). Like I said, I am not a moocher. I honestly believe that I should, in my current physical condition, be able to pay more to help others less fortunate than myself. But I can’t. I just… can’t. I don’t have the money.
I am not an outrageous spender. I have all of the same living expenses that you do, I’m sure. I buy things here and there that I probably don’t need – who doesn’t? But I’m typically careful and I make sure my needs are always met. Or are they? Are my needs really being met if I don’t even have the money required to go to the doctor?
‘Tax Time’ is a Game Changer.
I attempted to file my taxes recently – a time some of my friends jokingly refer to as ‘grown up Christmas’. Imagine my surprise when I had entered all of my tax information and despite making less than $15,000 this year from my near full time job, I owed the government a whopping $375. Even after deducting everything I possibly could for this blog while being exceptionally fair and maybe not claiming everything I could have, I still owe $90 and I cannot file my taxes until I can afford to give them that money.
How could I possibly owe the government so much money? I was claiming “married, filing separately” as was required of me because my late, estranged husband was still alive at the beginning of 2014. I was claiming everything correctly and I’m fairly certain my taxes were being taken out from my paycheck within reason. Where did this $375 come from!?
That $375 is my “fair share” because I didn’t sign up for Obamacare last year. You read that correctly. I owed the government because I did not have any form of health insurance nor had I signed up for their program. I hadn’t, because I couldn’t afford it – probably still can’t. When I looked into it last year and even applied, I was under the impression that I was eligible for some sort of monthly credit towards a plan, but the website was not clear nor helpful in regards to how to utilize that credit or what that even meant. So instead, I stared at health care plans ranging in costs starting at $200/month. When you only make $15,000… you can’t afford to spend $2,400 of it on health insurance.
I was angry, upset and confused. How could I be expected to pay so much money for health insurance when I barely make enough to cover my regular living expenses? I didn’t enroll in a plan with the impression that it was completely out of my grasp financially. Now I owe. Now I have to pay up for something I didn’t even use and that part really sucks.
The Decision to Enroll
Now that I understand how steep the fine is for not enrolling in Obamacare or some form of health insurance (which is only going to go up each year as I understand it), I knew I needed to look into it again. I am extremely fortunate that Jeremy offered to help me as he makes much more money than I do and has great health insurance for himself already through his employer. Regardless of his help, I still only make $15,000 per year. Despite his assistance, I still have all of my regular bills and expenses. Don’t even get me started on my unique situation involving my daughter for whom I pay child support. She also now has health insurance costs too that I am trying to help cover.
I looked into Obamacare again and was met with the same application process (which to be fair, isn’t all that strenuous) and result as last year: I am living below poverty and I am eligible for a $189/month credit towards a plan of my choosing.
The difference is that this time, it explained to me what that actually means and how to use it. I can opt to not use the credit, use some of it or all of it. If I decide not to use it and pay the full amount out of pocket, I will receive a greater refund on my taxes next year. If I use some of it, I may receive a refund. If I use all of it, I won’t receive a refund and there is a chance I could owe something further should something significantly change in my finances. I don’t foresee that happening and I chose to just go ahead and use all of it.
After applying the credit, I was able to find a plan I feel like I can live with. It’s going to cost me $25 per month for the plan itself and it includes a $150 deductible. There is no dental or eye care plan included in it unfortunately, but there are other plans and services that I could really benefit from. My copay prices are as follows:
$5 Primary doctor
$15 Specialist doctor
$4 Generic drugs
Nothing for XRays & Diagnostic imaging
Emergency Room: 10% Coinsurance after deductible In-Network
For $300 per year, I could have health insurance. That’s less than the $375 the government wanted from me this year for not having health insurance. This is an unfortunate place to be in. Damned if I do, but probably much more damned if I don’t. And thus, I opted to enroll.
My Hands are Tied
I feel a bit like my arm was twisted. Don’t get me wrong – I really do need health insurance and perhaps all of this is incentive enough to take better care of myself. That said, I am not everyone. I am not you and maybe you are healthy as a horse and don’t need medical care as badly as I do. Regardless, I feel forced into buying health care and that part really sucks.
What hurts me the most is knowing that you… yes you dear readers… you are probably paying for it. Yes, you over there – your taxes are helping to pay for my health insurance. I appreciate that – maybe more than most. But understand that I don’t like it and I don’t think it’s fair. It sucks and I am so incredibly sorry for it.
I believe health care should be affordable for everyone. However, I do not believe that everyone should be responsible for making it affordable for me. I have a job and there is no reason why health care should be so expensive and so far out of my reach without assistance. I also do not appreciate feeling forced to receive special credits and other tax payer’s hard-earned money through my health care enrollment.
No, I didn’t have to accept that credit. I didn’t have to use it. But on the other hand, yes… I had to. I couldn’t afford health insurance without it and I can’t afford to cough up an even more substantial chunk of money come tax season next year all because I didn’t accept that credit.
I was forced to accept government funded financial aid. Something I don’t want. Something I don’t believe I should need. Something I believe I haven’t earned. Something I know there are others out there who could better benefit from it than I.
But it’s a done deal. I now have health insurance. I enrolled last night and will soon pay my first month’s premium. As a reminder to my readers who may be in the same predicament as I, you need to hurry and look into it. There are only 5 days left to enroll. Let my situation be a lesson to you.
Are you enrolled in Obamacare? What has your experience been with it?
If you aren’t enrolled – why not? Do you owe a lot now on your taxes? – Has that swayed your decision to enroll this year?