by Barry George

I get an annual check up every year. In the past, I’ve done so with or without insurance because my health is important to me. Since my last check up, I’ve been diagnosed with two cancers, an unexpected blood clot, had three surgeries, and have a future of chemotherapy ahead of me. Before these diagnoses, I got enrolled for coverage through Connect For Health Colorado. And thank goodness – because without health insurance, the $100,000 worth of expenses would have bankrupted me. 

Before the Affordable Care Act, I met with a broker at Blue Cross to find affordable health insurance. First, the broker explained that due to my enlarged prostate, I would most probably be denied treatment and would have to pay an extraordinarily high deductible and premiums for my pre-existing condition. Because of my income as an artist, I could not afford the cost of having health insurance and decided to go without coverage.

Once I discovered that the ACA required insurance companies to cover people like me with pre-existing conditions, I applied through Connect for Health Colorado with the help of a navigator. Turns out, I was eligible for tax credits, too, and instead of paying over $700 a month, I now pay $422 a month. Not only did enrolling for coverage help me with my monthly premiums, but it also protected me from high costs when I least expected them.

Going into my annual check up this year, I in no way expected the diagnoses that were to come. But that’s why having health insurance is so important – so that when the unexpected happens, you aren’t burdened with financial woes on top of everything else.    

My doctor saw some abnormalities and recommended I see an urologist. I ended up with a diagnosis of prostate cancer and bladder cancer that resulted in the removal of both my prostate and bladder. Eventually, they realized they had misdiagnosed my prostate cancer and discovered I had a cancerous tumor in the bladder that had metastasized to the prostate.

After seeing many specialists and having multiple procedures, I discovered that I also suffered from a blood clot in my lungs. This diagnosis required me to purchase expensive syringes filled with a blood-thinning drug called Lovenox. Without my health coverage, there is no way I would’ve been able to afford all of this, let alone receive these diagnoses. 

Because of the Affordable Care Act, I was no longer denied treatment or coverage for my pre-existing condition and saved over $100,000 dollars on unexpected operations, hospital stays and chemotherapy. While I do not know what the future has in store for me, I know my health insurance will cover me and give me peace of mind for whatever lies ahead!

Stories like Barry’s show the importance of health reform and the successes of the Affordable Care Act. CCHI collects real peoples’ experiences with the health care system so that we can inform the media, elected officials, and our fellow Coloradans about important issues.

If you would like to tell us your story, you can share it with us here. If you would prefer to share by phone or email, please contact Lynn Doan at 303-839-1261 or [email protected]

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