Yahoo! News asked Americans to write about how the Supreme Court's ruling on Thursday affects them. Below is one personal story and perspective.
FIRST PERSON | I am an American and I have been gambling with my health care since returning to the USA after 24 years of working abroad. This scares me, as I'm normally risk-averse and plan wisely.
Why have I been coasting without seeing a doctor or getting health insurance? Money.
Sticker shock set in immediately upon returning to the United States from the U.K.. Quotes started at $600 a month plus co-pay and minimum spend, which soared even higher when pre-existing conditions were considered. Health insurance was no longer within my budget as a self-employed, part-time consultant. I could not afford my own health care insurance, look after older parents and also send my two children to university. That's the problem with being in the middle of the baby-boomer generation sandwich.
I gave up having a car, but additional choices had to be made. I opted to fund college tuitions, campus housing, and insurance for my daughter with her pre-existing condition, so that she could have her needed surgery. When you see a child (or a parent) suffer, these are easy choices.
In the U.K., my back-up option was to use the National Health Service if I could not afford to pay a private doctor of my choice. Family access to the NHS begins at birth. It is the largest and oldest single-payer system in the world, and is also the world's fifth-largest employer.
NHS eligibility had nothing to do with my bank account nor my salary, from which contributions were automatically taken. Everyone who works pays; those who do not or cannot work are still entitled to care emergency and long-term care. There really isn't any grumbling about that in the U.K.. If you're visiting from America and need emergency treatment, it's free. For residents, there is the peace of mind knowing that emergency surgery, long-term disability, critical illness, or an accident couldn't massively dent one's savings.
Back in the States, where I'm too young for Medicare and not wealthy enough for private insurance, I am yet another baby boomer in between two generations with no escape hatch, due to soaring insurance costs. I trust the changes afoot in the United States will deliver some options for me to find affordable cover for myself and both children under age 26, even for one with a chronic illness.
- Banking & Budgeting
- health insurance