Are you sick of hearing about Obamacare yet? Well yeah….sorry about that. It’s sort of my fault that we had to go through all this Affordable Care Act stuff. You see I’m one of 30 million Americans without health insurance. Actually, I haven’t had insurance (or an official employer) for more than four years now. I guess you could say I was one of the first people pushed into the “new economy” after the Great Recession. In the fall of 2008 I was working for an A/V company that kept me stationed at a fancy hotel in the financial district of Chicago. We’d set up and run huge meetings and parties for a lot of companies that turned out to be major players in the 2008 crash. I’ll never forget the day when my boss called me and said that my schedule for the next week had been changed from 40 hours to 8 hours. It turns out one of our biggest clients, Lehman Brothers, had cancelled all their upcoming events because the company had just declared bankruptcy.
After that, things fell apart pretty quickly. Our new business dried up and my hours were cut in half for the rest of the year. About a dozen of our biggest clients were seeking government bailouts and I guess most of them realized it wouldn’t look too good if they were caught spending $50,000 on banquets at a luxury hotel.
By the spring of 2009 it was all over. My company laid me off along with about 50 other local A/V techs. Since the job market was suddenly flooded by a bunch of guys who had way more experience than I did, I knew my career in A/V was probably over. Eventually I got back on my feet thanks to video contests. There was a good stretch of time where my only income came from winning them. Today I make money in a few different ways but my main source of income comes from freelance editing. I don’t miss my old job at all and I love the freedom that comes with being my own boss. But the downside is that I haven’t been able to afford health insurance in more than four years.
Staring on January 1 I’ll be covered by Blue Cross thanks to that “train wreck” called Obamacare! Last week I went to Healthcare.gov and the site worked like a charm. Once I got into “the marketplace” I was shocked by how good and how affordable the plans actually are. About a year ago I tried to buy health insurance on my own and the best price I could find was about $300 a month for a plan that was basically a piece of junk. (It was the kind of plan that’s now illegal to sell thanks to the affordable care act.) On the government exchange I was able to buy a “silver” plan from Blue Cross at a VERY fair price. Plus I qualified for a tax credit and that will save me a few hundred bucks a year. And to my surprise, I was also able to buy dental insurance in the marketplace too. It blows my mind that so many people think that the Affordable Care Act is going to hurt this country. The insurance industry was out of control and we really needed the government to step in and regulate things.
If you’re a freelancer or a self-employed producer and you don’t have insurance, now’s your chance to go buy a little piece of mind. Like I said, you might be surprised by the kind of plans you can actually buy on Healthcare.gov. (I was surprised to learn that 100% of preventative care is covered in all plans, even the cheap “bronze” plans.) You might want to sign up sooner rather than later because if I’ve learned anything from the Crash the Super Bowl contest, 90% of people are going to wait until the last minute to sign up. One final tip: If you tried to sign up for the exchange in October, you should try creating a new account. I created an account weeks ago but I kept getting an error message when I tried to log in again. I think the old accounts never got verified so I just started over and I was able to sign up without encountering a single glitch.