Affordable Care Act, healthcare, Obamacare — February 9, 2015 at 7:06 pm

“Don’t put off buying health insurance,” says young man with cancer


Brian was the picture of health before his diagnosis. He’s grateful he has insurance and wants everyone to get covered.

Back in 2012, Brian Skibo had no reason to think there was anything wrong other than some work-related back pain. But when the pain didn’t respond to treatment, and he started getting headaches, his doctor ordered some tests. What the MRI revealed came as a complete shock to Brian.

The doctor told him he had a brain tumor that was inoperable and incurable. Brian was 32 years old.

He had insurance through work, but lost both his job and his insurance in the summer of 2013 because he’d missed so much work due to his illness. In 2014, Brian’s employer offered him COBRA coverage — but he was able to find a plan on his own for less.

That never would have been possible before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. In fact, Brian says he never could have gotten insurance at all after his diagnosis, at any price.

I called a couple of different insurance companies in late 2013, before the ACA kicked in, and they both told me there was no way they were going to insure me. When I told them I had cancer, they said there was nothing they could do for me.

Thanks to the ACA, Brian can no longer be denied coverage because of his pre-existing condition. With the tax credits he qualifies for because he hasn’t been able to go back to work yet, he pays just $212 per month in premiums. His deductible is $750 and his out-of-pocket maximum is $3,000.

Brian’s tumor is slow-growing, but once the doctors try to shrink it the tumor will begin growing back more rapidly. So for now, he has two MRI scans a year to keep an eye on the tumor’s size. A single MRI of the brain can cost about $1,000, and that doesn’t include the price of doctor’s visits and other care.

Plus, Brian now has seizures and other complications that he needs medications to manage — and those drugs can be expensive without insurance. His co-pay for most medications is $8 and the more expensive drug he takes is $10 with help from the manufacturer.

Brian is looking for work he can do despite the seizures and the trouble he now has concentrating, and the ongoing numbness in his fingers that makes even holding a pen difficult.

Before his diagnosis, Brian says he felt invincible — he was working out, eating right and feeling great about his life. Because of that, he knows you don’t have to feel sick to be sick.

Don’t put off buying health insurance just because you’re young and feel healthy. Even if you don’t want health insurance, think about your family — how they would react if something happened to you, especially if there was a chance to stop it?

I would never have been diagnosed if I hadn’t had insurance that made it easy to go to the doctor. There’s no cure for the kind of cancer I have, but at least I can take the best possible care of myself because I have health insurance.

There’s no time to waste. Open enrollment for 2015 ends February 15th. Visit today to shop for and buy health insurance.

[Photo credits: Top – CC image via LaDawna Howard |; Bottom — courtesy of Brian Skibo.]