As a young, healthy man in my 20’s I just wasn’t worried about health insurance, but that changed unexpectedly, and I found myself in the position of wondering if I would have to choose between my home or my own health.
As a musician, I've always felt lucky to have enough work to support myself while doing what I love. Working three jobs, I've earned good money, but none of my employers offered health insurance. But when I was diagnosed with HIV in 2007, I knew I wouldn’t get insurance because I now had a pre-existing condition.
My employers tried to do everything they could for me, but even the healthcare options potentially available didn’t cover the care I needed. I sought out additional help and was told, by the case-manager, that I should quit one of my jobs and lose my house so that I could go on Medicaid.
Can you imagine being told that your best option is to lose your home and quit a job? I had just learned I had a long-term illness that required monthly care and medication, and now I also had to worry about losing my home.
I didn't see the case manager’s suggestion as a viable option, so I continued my attempts to find other options. Luckily, I was able to get on my partner's insurance plan and receive excellent medical care. But this still put me in a precarious situation, because later when that relationship ended, so did my access to affordable health coverage. Luckily, the Affordable Care Act was already in motion at that time and I was able to get insurance through the Pre-Existing Insurance Program. I don’t know what I would have done if the Affordable Care Act hadn’t been passed
For people living with conditions such as HIV, having access to affordable healthcare allows us to continue to LIVE our lives without resorting to such tactics as suggested by that (well-meaning) case worker. If you or a loved one has a pre-existing condition, visit https://www.pcip.gov/ and healthcare.gov to get covered—because being healthy is not a guarantee.
We need to help spread the word on getting covered, because when someone finds out they're sick, they get frozen and may have a hard time finding the resources they need. The Affordable Care Act literally saved my life, so let's commit ourselves to getting people the information they need to get covered too.
Shawn is a MomsRising member sharing his personal story. You can join about a million other MomsRising members who are helping support the Affordable Care Act for Shawn and so many others: http://action.momsrising.org/cms/signup/signup_74