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Jul. 23 2009 - 5:56 pm | 26 views | 1 recommendation | 3 comments

What healthcare reform means to me

Matrix pills

I'll take the blue. Or was it the red? (Image by ThomasThomas via Flickr)

President Obama is now looking at the end of the year as a deadline for passing the healthcare reform bill. I’ll be biting my nails. Because my family’s insurance clock is ticking. As of February 1, 2010, the Cullens of New Jersey will be going commando on healthcare coverage.

When I volunteered for a buyout in December 2008, healthcare was my No. 1 concern. My 12 years at my employer earned me a little over half a year of buyout checks — and insurance. Instead of negotiating for more money, I asked instead for longer coverage. My employer acquiesced. If I’d known they were feeling so generous, I would have asked them to throw in the company masseusse.

But the extended coverage was big. Here’s what my 13 months of healthcare coverage represent to me: a new life. Nothing less. It’s a worry-free stint during which to hurl myself toward a new career in a high-risk, high-reward field. If I’ve failed to achieve after those 13 months are over, then it’s back to the coal mines.

That is, unless Obama comes through.

Sure, we have a few options. My husband, a freelance musician, has limited access to a bare-bones union plan. We could join an innovative group plan like the one offered by the Freelancers Union, but I’ve heard such mixed things (like here, here and here).

Unlike some young families, one option we completely disregard is going uninsured. We have two small children. I have a chronic illness that’s required hospitalization and pricey maintenance meds. We’ve lost parents to cancer. But all these factors also make us pretty fugly to insurers.

So you see, Mr. President, we’re in a bind. I’m doing my damnedest to break free of a dying industry and learn new skills, just like you ask. But we can’t do without pediatric check-ups and pills. We need that safety net. We need public health insurance as an option. Hop to it, will you?


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  1. collapse expand

    We had a gap in coverage for a few months with two young kids a while back. Pediatricians and long term family doctors may cut you a break- giving you “physician samples” of medicines instead of writing prescriptions, and breaks on doctor visits- it’s more than your co-pay, but less than their standard charge to insurance. YMMV living in Jersey, but Upstate, a lot of people have lost their insurance so doctors are more likely to help you out. (Of course that translates into higher insurances bills for the insured, but that’s life.)

    But you sure sleep a lot better at night when you have health coverage.

  2. collapse expand

    FYI: The freelancer’s union doesn’t offer health coverage in NJ.

    I’m also looking forward to universal health care. Someday I’ll go freelance and would love to have insurance.

    • collapse expand

      Good point- health care is really a huge barrier to entrepreneurship- I’d have loved to go out on my own and consult, but health insurance makes that virtually impossible.
      It’s got to be an enormous barrier to job growth when the economy turns around- since we’re headed to another jobless recovery, it’ll just be freelancers and consultants for a while until companies have the guts to commit to hires again.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    About Me

    Read Wasabi Mama for your daily dose of sinus-clearing rant on parenting, work, media and entertainment. If you like a fresh nasal passage, please click below my photo to "follow me." For more on me, please visit www.lisacullen.com.

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    Contributor Since: January 2009
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