When I first met my wife in 2007, she told me she was about to quit her job of 27 years in the oil and gas industry to pursue a career in family therapy. Quitting her job meant giving up her employer-provided insurance, so she went on COBRA for 18 months. By that time, she was in graduate school and was able to get student insurance. When she graduated, however, she was unable to get insurance on her own as she had pre-existing conditions that precluded purchasing insurance on the open market.
I was following a similar path. When we first met, I was working on my PhD while also teaching full time. In 2011, I was beginning my dissertation and my college, facing budget cuts, was offering a payoff to anyone willing to resign. By this time, my wife was on my insurance, and I hesitated to give up my benefits, but we eventually decided I would resign and take student insurance for both of us.
From there, I was playing a delicate balancing act. I knew the healthcare exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) were supposed to become available in January 2014. I pressed forward with my dissertation without wanting to graduate before the exchanges were available. I found that I could stay on the student insurance for six months past my graduation date. I defended my dissertation in March 2013, but did not turn in final paperwork in time for spring graduation, meaning that I would have to enroll in the summer. I graduated in August and was able to keep the student insurance for my wife and myself until February 2014.
Thankfully, the exchanges did go into effect by the beginning of 2014, and we were both able to purchase insurance for ourselves. The cost of the insurance was about the same as the price for the student insurance, but it is a much better insurance plan. I am extremely grateful for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which made this possible.
But the ACA is even better than I realized. I now teach part time for two colleges. Under the ACA, I can join rejoin the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and purchase health insurance along with disability insurance, accidental death and dismemberment insurance, and life insurance for myself and my wife. Further, the teaching I am now doing applies to my years of service in the Teacher Retirement Service, which means my retirement account is growing and will become available to me sooner.
I am not happy with all of President Obama’s policies by any means, and ultimately I would like to see the US adopt a single-payer model for healthcare, but Obamacare is a step in the right direction. Without Obamacare, my wife and I would have joined the millions of working Americans who have no health insurance or access to affordable healthcare.
So, thanks, Obama.