On Tuesday, the day Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges went live, I went online to see exactly how much my family would save if we signed up. The numbers were unbelievable. It was a rough estimate, but it was looking like a plan comparable to our current one would be close to $10,000 cheaper per year after the tax credit. My husband and I were almost giddy at the idea of saving all that money.
This should be a no-brainer. And yet, even though our current coverage is so expensive, we haven't yet signed up for a new plan. We still sit here nervous about changing anything because of the politics. It’s not that we believe any of that scare stuff about death panels. The “what if’s” have set in for other reasons, the biggest being: What if Obamacare is repealed?
My husband and I are both self-employed. We have been buying individual insurance for years. The premiums have slowly gone up, but we keep paying them because it’s what you do. We pay over $18,000 a year for two adults and three children.
Twelve years ago, my husband was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. After that, he was stamped with a pre-existing condition. So he stayed with the health insurance plan he had at that time. He didn’t have much of a choice. No one would ever cover him after cancer. So he pays a high premium just to be covered. I’ve heard too many stories of people with pre-existing conditions unable to get coverage and the nightmare they’re living. We would never want to chance it and be in that situation.
Of course, this has all changed now. The law says that people cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. But with members of Congress talking about how they can’t wait to get rid of the law, we’re still apprehensive. Our son has had small surgeries—a tonsillectomy, adenoid removal, and a couple of ear tube surgeries. Even those small procedures put us on edge a bit. What if, we wondered, they come back to bite us later after we've changed our insurance plans? What if Congress rolls back the law, and we wind up without insurance just because we changed plans back when Obamacare was in place? I know I’m probably over-thinking every aspect: Even if they totally repeal the law, we’d still probably get to keep our new policy —but what if our new plan then warps to be even more expensive than our current one? And, given the tone of the Obamacare critics, I worry about what loopholes they’d create.
So instead of jumping at the opportunity to save money, I sit here trying to predict the decisions Washington will make down the road. I do believe that as self-employed people Obamacare would really beneﬁt us. But this is a case where politics might be keeping even people who want it from signing up. If only I could get rid of that nagging “what if” in my head.
Megan Mundinger is a piano teacher in Lombard, Illinois.