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Guest Commentary / Affordable Care Act

We couldn’t afford it before, or now

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By Cindy and Phil Shobe

Here’s what my husband and I have to say about the Affordable Care Act: We have not had health insurance since 2004. I lost my job that had health insurance. All of my jobs since then were temporary with no benefits, and now I’m “retired” unable to find work, and, also, now have health issues which restrict my ability to work many jobs. Without insurance, I have not been able to take care of these health issues.
My husband is self-employed and has been since 1999. He’s in the construction business — new, rehab, remodel, homeowner, business and a real “Jack of all trades.” It has taken him years to build his business and finally make some kind of earnings that now has to take care of mortgage, utilities, food, vehicle costs, taxes, etc.
We looked at getting insurance but the cost was just not anything we could deal with. We struggle month to month with our mortgage, bills, utilities, taxes, food and whatever else comes along. We pay car insurance because it’s required by state law, which makes it a struggle every six months to get the money together to just pay it. And, we know the irony of this situation. But, if we can’t rob Peter to pay Paul, where can we turn to for help?
We struggle month to month because we want to keep our home and vehicles because they are necessary. We struggle because we are trying to stay out of the poverty level that would put us out of house and home. We seem to barely make enough to live on, and yet on paper we make more than poverty level. Yes, if we had a catastrophic event and one of us ended up in the hospital, our home would have to be put up for collateral or we would have to file bankruptcy. That’s the chance we have taken since 2004. Yes, we agree that we need health insurance. We are in our early 60s. I’ve not had any care for my physical disability because we cannot afford it due to not having any health insurance. It’s a Catch-22 situation for us.
If this ACA were treated as a “Medicare” health plan as opposed to a paying health plan (which is profit driven), we would be all for it. We love the idea of a health-care plan for all U.S. citizens that everyone would have, be they rich or poor (why should the rich get better health care than the rest of us?) One health-care plan only.
It’s not right to ask those of us who cannot afford a plan to pay for insurance that we simply cannot afford because we do not fit the criteria for Medicaid or getting discounts. We simply cannot afford nor do we have the monthly income to pay it. Period!
I cannot believe that my husband and I are the only ones experiencing this conundrum. We couldn’t afford insurance before, what makes you think we can afford it now?
My husband and I have to wait until we qualify for Medicare to actually get health care coverage. It’s not going to happen between now and then. So we have to pay the “tax,” or “fine,” whatever it’s being called. That is certainly cheaper than paying for something we cannot afford on a monthly basis. Those of us who are on the low end of money earned each year but are not at “poverty level” are not able to afford this AHA; plain and simple.
Try and stand in our shoes and tell us what to do. We would be interested to know. But, don’t go thinking that we just should fork over the money and get coverage because it’s required by “law.” What are we supposed to not pay in order to pay a premium? What in heaven’s name has changed for those of us who cannot afford health insurance? Nothing! We still cannot afford insurance, plain and not so simple. Talk to us about something we can afford and we’ll listen. Talk to us about something we cannot afford, and we’ll just shake our heads and think, “You have no idea...”
Cindy and Phil Shobe live in Everett.

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