Instead of being tied to a job for the insurance benefits, Americans have the freedom to pursue their dreams.
Ever since he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 10, Shawn Dhanak says he worried about what he was going to do when he was no longer covered by his parents’ insurance. He remembers his grandmother telling him, “You can’t go without insurance.” He knows his father stayed with the same job so he wouldn’t lose the health insurance his family needed.
Now 28 years old, Shawn doesn’t have to think twice about any of that thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare. In fact, Shawn recently moved from Michigan to Los Angeles to accept an exciting career opportunity as a sports and entertainment marketing professional with a boutique brand development firm.
“Without the ACA, I wouldn’t have felt confident enough or financially secure enough to make this leap,” Shawn says. “Living with type 1 diabetes is expensive, so I can never go without coverage.”
Shawn had insurance at the job he left to move to LA, but before that — and before the ACA — he had to do without coverage for about five months. Some insurance companies denied him altogether because he has type 1 diabetes, which is the less common and more serious type of diabetes. Other insurers charged so much, Shawn just couldn’t afford it.
Because he changed jobs, Shawn was eligible to enroll through the Healthcare.gov Marketplace within 60 days, even outside the open enrollment period. He found a plan that was a great fit for his needs, with a nationwide network and a monthly premium of just $182 — about half what he’d pay without the help of tax credits.
Shawn’s annual deductible is $300 and his out-of-pocket maximum is just $1,400 a year. He only pays $40 to see specialists and his plan pays for 90 percent of the costs of the insulin pump and supplies he depends on to manage his diabetes and stay healthy.
“Those supplies are very expensive without insurance,” he says, “so that’s a big deal.”
Shawn says that without the ACA, he never would have been able to move across the country to pursue a career opportunity like the one he was offered.
I’m so thankful for the ACA and I would like to thank President Obama. He didn’t have to take up health reform, but he knew it was important for people like me who need some financial security — for people like me who have profound pre-existing conditions and were priced out of the market or denied insurance. He spent so much political capital getting this done and, for that, I’m eternally grateful.
As for the Republicans who are waging war against the ACA, Shawn has this to say: “It’s disgraceful and they should be ashamed of themselves.”
He’s anxious about the Supreme Court’s ruling in the King v. Burwell case that could eliminate tax subsidies for Americans living in states that rely on Healthcare.gov instead of having created a state-based marketplace.
“If they strike down the tax credits, not only will it throw the whole system into chaos, but it will price millions of people out of being able to afford insurance — including me,” Shawn says. “The Republicans who signed on to this case, including Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, will be inflicting a massive tax increase on us. This from the party that says they don’t believe in tax increases.”
But, until the ruling, which is expected in June, Shawn is focused on the positive.
I’m able to do now what my father wasn’t able to do back when I was growing up. I could drive across the country, start a new life and pursue a new career and see where it goes. Without the ACA, I would not have the opportunity I do right now.
You may qualify for a special enrollment period if you’ve had a qualifying life event in the last 60 days such as losing coverage, getting married, having a child, moving to a different coverage area, and becoming a citizen, among others. Find out if you’re eligible by answering a few quick questions at Healthcare.gov. If you qualify, you can sign up for coverage online and find out if you’re eligible for financial assistance to lower your premiums based on your income. You can also get more information at 1-800-318-2596 or find in-person assistance through Get Covered America.
[Photo courtesy of Shawn Dhanak, shown with his sister on his arrival in LA.]