My Story: "For 7 Years, I’ve Had No Health Insurance"

An application for health insurance, a stethoscope and some pillsFreelance writer Nida Khan, who is asthmatic, is the first to admit that, despite the fact that she’s been without health insurance for 7 years, she’s been extremely lucky.

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“Even though I’ve had my share of annoying health issues to deal with, including difficulties buying my inhalers, there are so many other much-more-horrible stories out there of people suffering needlessly, and dying, just because they didn’t have coverage.”

Nida’s story is one that the 48 million uninsured people in this country can immediately identify with. A study conducted at the Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance (released in 2009) found that nearly 45,000 deaths a year are associated with lack of health insurance. According to its data, uninsured working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those who are insured.

“My last full-time job was in 2006. And, subsequently, that was the last time I enjoyed health benefits. The past seven years have been a mixed bag of prayers to not get sick, to waiting to see a doctor until it’s absolutely and utterly necessary. Forced to freelance out of necessity because of a lack of work, I remember how tough it was. I only go to the doctor when I’m tired of self-diagnosing and cold medicine simply will not suffice. These past seven years have been a combination of uncertainty and gambling with my own health. I recall the frustration of not being able to go to a doctor that knew my history, and that could really dedicate time to diagnosing what was wrong. And I remember the embarrassment of finally accepting charity care as a last resort when things reached a tipping point during this time period several years ago.”

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine conducted a study of preventable deaths in 19 industrialized nations and found that the U.S. came in last place. Released in 2008, the ‘Measuring the Health of Nations’ report focused on deaths before the age of 75 that are potentially preventable with proper and timely health care. And let me repeat, we came in last place.

When asked about her opinion of why certain government factions, as well as a portion of American society, has been so resistant to the Affordable Care Act, Nida has a very simple answer: “politics.”

“It’s always about money, it’s always about politics. It’s rarely about making sure that the people who make up this country are properly cared for. It’s inexcusable.  And it is mind boggling that in the most powerful country on the planet, we let millions go uninsured and underinsured. Perhaps that is what so many are fearful of, that if we have a healthier population, we may in fact have a more productive population that starts paying attention and sees political posturing for what it is — a game. Well, game over. On October 1st, the law went into effect, and I for one will be sure to sign up. I’ve literally had a countdown to this day.”

Nida says that once she signs up for the insurance she’s been without for all these years, she already has her list of appointments she wants to make.

“When you’re uninsured, you’re often forced to neglect certain steps you really do need to take to stay healthy. Preventive care becomes a luxury that you can’t afford. I actually can’t wait to get a basic checkup, and to get some blood work done. I”m enthusiastic about checking my cholesterol level, and making sure all of those types of things are okay.”

Young Adults Health Insurance: Only $50?

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 3.37.59 PMA new report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that nearly half (46 percent) of single young adults who are uninsured and may be eligible for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace could get coverage for $50 or less per month.

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“The health care law is making health insurance more affordable for young adults,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “With nearly half of single, Marketplace-eligible uninsured young adults able to get coverage at $50 or less per month, the health care law is delivering the quality, affordable coverage people are looking for.”

Young adults are the age group most likely to be without health insurance.  But through the Health Insurance Marketplace, young adults can purchase quality, affordable coverage and get lower costs on monthly premiums through tax credits.  Young adults may also be eligible for Medicaid.  The amount an individual can save depends on his or her family income and size.

Today’s report examines data from the 34 Federally-facilitated and State Partnership Marketplaces and finds that out of 2.9 million single young adults ages 18 to 34 who may be eligible for coverage in the Marketplace, 1.3 million (46 percent) could purchase a bronze plan for $50 per month or less after tax credits.   In the 34 states, a total of 1.9 million young adults, representing nearly 7 in 10 (66 percent) of the potentially Marketplace-eligible uninsured ages 18 to 34, may be able to pay $100 or less for coverage in 2014.

According to the report, an additional 1 million eligible uninsured single young adults may qualify for Medicaid in the states that have opted to expand the program in 2014. Today’s report also shows that if each of the 34 states expanded its Medicaid program, the proportion of young adults who could obtain low-cost coverage would be even greater.  If each of the 34 states expanded its Medicaid program, 4.9 million uninsured single young adults would be eligible for Medicaid.

While some states are expanding their Medicaid programs in 2014, other states are not doing so.  Under the health care law, states can receive 100 percent federal funding in 2014 to expand their Medicaid programs to cover people with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.  That’s about $15,800 a year for an individual, or about $32,500 for a family of four.