Our #GetCovered Story: Insurance Let Us Get Through a Health Crisis Together
Ed. note: This blog is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Blog. The original post date was December 3, 2014.
Earnest: In July 2013, my wife Sharon was diagnosed with both lung and breast cancer. My immediate thought was that I would need to resign from my job as a vice president for sales of an education company in order to become a full-time caregiver.
Sharon: You have to understand: Both my parents and my only sister had cancer. My diagnosis was frightening news.
Earnest: The complication with my plan was that I would lose our health insurance from my employer. While we were in a position to afford insurance on the private market, no private insurance company would write us a policy due to Sharon's pre-existing condition.
We both had professional careers. We saved well. But if we didn't have health insurance, these medical bills would have put a huge dent in our retirement savings.
But then I heard about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Marketplace. I was able to secure coverage for my wife and me through HealthCare.gov, that started January 1, 2014. The pre-existing condition issue was no longer an issue, and we had a choice of providers to choose from.
I retired from my job on December 31, 2013, knowing that our Marketplace insurance would kick in on January 1, 2014. The ACA allowed me to be by Sharon's side during her treatment, and I'm grateful for that.
Sharon: My lung surgery in May alone cost $71,000. It was covered by our insurance because of the ACA. Our insurance also covered my breast surgery in January and my radiation and chemo.
I'm doing great now.
We've also both had regular exams for preventive care, covered by our insurance.
Earnest: We chose the platinum plan for our 2014 coverage, which was an affordable option for our budget. On November 15, when Open Enrollment began again, I went back to HealthCare.gov, looked over various health plans and chose a new, even more affordable plan for 2015. The whole process of re-enrolling took all of 20 minutes. I would encourage people to re-enroll. There may be a better plan out there. You've got to take a look.
Sharon: Health insurance means I'm still here. I'm grateful beyond measure for the blessing of an accessible insurance program that literally changed our lives and quite possibly saved mine.
You, too, can check out your options for affordable, quality insurance through the Marketplace — find out if you qualify for assistance to lower the cost of your premium at HealthCare.gov. Or if you prefer talking to a person, you can call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325), any time, any day. Enroll by December 15 for coverage that begins January 1, 2015. Open enrollment lasts until February 15, 2015.
Did you sign up for coverage through the Marketplace during the previous open enrollment like Earnest and Sharon? Make sure to return to HealthCare.gov to update your application and review your options. You can choose to renew your coverage or change it for a different plan that might cost less and better meet your needs. You can review the 5 Steps to Staying Covered HERE.