Congressman Neal Dunn and Speaker Paul Ryan are determined to repeal the Affordable Care Act, deny 63,000 residents of Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, and return us to junk health insurance coverage.
Before passage of the ACA in 2010, the health insurance industry charged ever-increasing premiums and co-payments, denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, cut off its sickest customers with annual or lifetime caps, and refused to renew (or simply cancelled) coverage of many working families with no explanation. It often took years of litigation to get many of them to pay what they clearly owed.
It was especially bad if you had no employer-provided insurance and needed an individual policy. I had one of those individual policies in the 1990s for me and my three children – with Time Insurance Co. (later, Assurant Health), a subsidiary of Fortis Inc. I was a self-employed consultant for numerous corporate clients, and Time Insurance seemed to have the most affordable individual policies.
It was lousy insurance.
First, I had to pass a physical exam, in case there was something that would disqualify me from any coverage (I passed). Then my policy had a 20 percent co-payment and a lifetime cap of $1 million. It excluded pregnancy coverage (being a woman was a pre-existing condition), and imposed premium increases that leaped higher every year. Mine went up 43 percent in two years – and was that low only because I increased my annual deductible to $10,000.
In other words, it was catastrophic coverage only, to prevent my personal bankruptcy if some terrible illness or injury happened. We managed to stay relatively healthy and avoid major expenses. I paid our routine expenses out of pocket and, in fact, never filed a claim.
I never saw a dime of the thousands of dollars I spent annually. Plus, I never even had the peace of mind that Time Insurance would take care of me if something terrible happened. It had a sorry record of wrongdoing that involved lengthy court challenges and numerous fines.
(Assurant Health left the health insurance business in 2015. Good riddance.)
I finally achieved that peace of mind when I turned 60 and got Tricare for my health insurance, which I earned from 22 years in the Navy, mostly in the active reserves.
So when I hear Congressman Dunn and Speaker Ryan condemn the ACA with bogus facts, I remember what we had before – when even so-called “ensured” working families had shoddy coverage that meant tragic financial and health results.
Turning back the clock will never happen on my watch. You can count on me.