I haven’t always had health problems. Growing up I was generally fine and it wasn’t until my late teens I developed chronic and debilitating head pain. The condition continued, and continues, to worsen over time. These were no regular headaches or even migraines, but something much more rare. Thus began several years of being referred to countless specialists, all ordering different diagnostic testing to determine what I had and how to treat it. Thankfully I had health insurance—first under my parents’ coverage and after college I had a great job that covered me.
As life always changes, my partner and I ended up moving to a new city so he could attend graduate school. Even before moving, I started looking for jobs. And I knew getting new health insurance would be a top priority. I enrolled with COBRA to continue my benefits from my last job, but it was very expensive and through a regional carrier who didn’t even have providers in my new state. So while looking for a job and sending in dozens of cover letters, I was also trying to be a good consumer and compared all sorts of different health insurance plans to find the best one for me.
I decided on a plan offered by Aetna, filled out all the paperwork, and waited for a response. In a letter mailed to me a few weeks later, Aetna stated that considering my pre-existing condition, they wouldn’t let me purchase insurance from them. Disheartened but hopeful I tried for my second choice—Independence Blue Cross. Their letter wasn’t as bad, stating they would let me buy insurance, but nothing related to the pre-existing condition, so basically nothing ‘above the neck’, would be covered for the first year. That wasn’t too helpful since my condition was a major reason why I wanted health insurance.
Thankfully I was offered a job shortly thereafter that offered health insurance coverage starting immediately. But this experience left me extremely nervous. What if the economy takes a turn for the worse and I lose my job? This is why I was so happy when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed and stipulated that starting in 2014, I cannot be denied individual health insurance because of my condition. But this week, with the fate of the ACA in the hands of the Supreme Court, I am nervous all over again. I just hope the Justices do the right thing and uphold this critical law that will help me and so many others.