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"I can go to the doctor again"

Eight years. I’ve waited eight years to feel secure and to know that if I get sick, I have something to fall back on.

Why eight years? I have two of what we all know now as “pre-existing conditions.” I call them migraines and restless leg syndrome. I work full-time as a clinical psychologist and run my own practice, which I absolutely love. But that means that I buy my own health insurance, and that’s where my pre-existing conditions come in.

I’ve been denied by insurance companies more times than I can count. When I found a plan that would accept me a few years ago, I thought I was lucky—until I realized how little it actually covered.

The true cost of every little bit of health care has become clear to me over the past few years. I have a quarterly cap—not just on care for my chronic conditions, but everything. That means that even for routine preventive care like annual checkups or mammograms, if I’m over the cap, it’s out of the picture.

So I put off going to the doctor sometimes. And I live in fear of getting hurt or having a major medical problem. There’s no way to plan for it, and I’d probably be close to going bankrupt if it happened. The anxiety and fear takes away from the joys in my life: my work, my friends and family, and time spent with my son.

So when the marketplace in Virginia opened in October, I logged on. I took my time, researched all of my options, called my doctors, and crunched the numbers. I decided that if I had waited eight years for affordable health care, I could wait a few more weeks to choose what is best for me.

The happy ending? I enrolled in a platinum plan, giving me the coverage that I know I deserve—at $150 less per month than my current bare-bones plan.

And because the Affordable Care Act guarantees that preventive care—like annual checkups and mammograms—is covered at no cost to me, I can take care of my whole self, not just my chronic conditions, without the added worry of an unexpected bill.

It’s incredible. I can go to the doctor again.
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