Affordable Care Act, healthcare, Obamacare — December 20, 2016 at 8:08 am

With Obamacare, this man can make a mid-life career change without sacrificing financial security


If he didn’t have health insurance, Jason isn’t sure how he would have paid for gallbladder surgery.

Changing careers is never easy, but Jason Cole knew it was the right decision for him. He left his job as a correctional officer to return to school to fulfill his dream of becoming a high school history teacher, because he wanted to make a difference in young people’s lives before they got in trouble and wound up in jail.

Jason chose to complete a two-year graduate program in one year, which leaves little time to work. He has two minimum-wage jobs to pay the bills while he studies and student teaches, and none of the jobs offer health insurance like he had while working as a correctional officer.

So as soon as he left that job, he bought health insurance at As someone who leads a healthy lifestyle and hasn’t had many health issues, he really didn’t think he’d need insurance. As it turns out, he did.

After I’d paid my first or second premium, I sprained my ankle really badly. I thought I’d broken it. I had to get an X-ray, crutches — all of that. So right away, it paid off.

A few months later, I started having what turned out to be gallstone attacks, and within a few weeks I was having surgery to have the gallbladder removed.

Jason had chosen a plan with a low premium — just $33 a month with the help of tax credits available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare — and a relatively high deductible of $6,000. So he’s responsible for paying $6,000, but what he owes could have been much, much more.

“Without insurance, I’d probably be $20,000 or $30,000 in debt. I’m not in the greatest spot but I can get out of it. I graduate in May and there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

Jason, who is 41 years old and lives in South Dakota, is concerned about what might happen to him if the Trump administration repeals or dismantles Obamacare, especially since the soonest Jason would start a full-time teaching job would be August.

It’s terrifying to think about going that long without insurance. I never would have imagined a gallbladder would have been an issue. I went without insurance before but now it’s a scary proposition. It’s frustrating thinking that this is even something we have to talk about.

Jason admits that the ACA isn’t perfect, but at least it gives people like him a chance.

This is a step in the right direction. Healthcare should be a fundamental right. If we’re genuinely the most powerful country in the world, we should also be the most compassionate. You’d think that would go hand-in-hand.

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[Photo courtesy of Jason Cole.]