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$3,500 a month

My name is Cathy Cunningham. I am a small business owner. My husband and I work from home running an Internet business while taking care of two small children with a lot of medical issues. Presley is 6 and has a genetic metabolic disorder called Classic Galactosemia. George is 5 and has Schmid-Fraccaro Syndrome. He has had 9 surges, including open-heart surgery.

In 2005, the plant where my husband worked announced they were closing. Our health insurance was through his employer, but we signed up for 18 months of COBRA Insurance. It was much costlier, but my little Internet business was doing okay and it was a stretch, but we could pay for it. My husband was a Type-II diabetic and I was healthy.

We had been married for 7 years at that point and had been trying for many years to have a child. We finally managed to get pregnant.....with the baby due JUST after our COBRA ran out. We found out we could still get health insurance through a federally-eligible program if you were coming off COBRA, but the cost was staggering. $3,500 a month. Yes. A month. For two people. I used up our savings paying for it for 5 months, and it was a good financial gamble. Our daughter had a metabolic disorder that required being transported to a large children's hospital about two hours away and spending several weeks there before going home. Finally, in March of 2007, I had to drop the insurance as our savings had run out. We tried to get a private policy for health insurance since we were self-employed, but no one would accept my husband (diabetic) or our daughter (Classic Galactosemia). They would, however, accept me since I was healthy.

A week later we found out that, despite using birth control, we were having another child less than a year after our daughter was born. He was born very sick and had to be life-flighted to the children's hospital at birth for numerous surgeries, including open-heart surgery. Since I was covered by health insurance when he was born, the insurance company had to accept my son. My 'million-dollar' baby. For that we are immensely grateful.

I tried several more time to get insurance for my husband and daughter over the next few years, to no avail. I have watched the rise of the Affordable Health Care Act with a very happy heart, knowing what it meant for our little family. Last year, my husband and daughter were able to get health insurance! I enrolled them in the PCIP (Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program) at an affordable rate. They got in before they closed the enrollment due to funding issues.

I want people to know our story. I want to help others see what a great opportunity the ACA is. I want others to know they have choices now. Choices that don't include, 'do I buy my medicine this month or pay my rent'. I want employers to see the benefits of this program as well. I want them to stop using it as a negative and start using it as a positive!

—CathyOH
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