Real Lives Pt. 4

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From TPM Reader SJ, a side of the health care insurance struggle that I suspect is almost wholly invisible to most of the people who dominate the public conversation on this issue …

I’d like to add my two cents to this discussion because I feel like my family’s situation is something that often gets missed.

My wife and I have two children, ages 4 and almost 2. I’m an educator not working under contract and my wife works in agriculture. We’re very, very grateful that we are currently insured via BadgerCare, Wisconsin’s Medicaid program for low income families. We don’t use it much, save the shots and check-ups for the kiddos. But it’s a godsend, a just-in-case sort of comfort.

But here’s the thing for us: we don’t make that much money. We pay the bills, we live within our means and our family is happy. We don’t buy much stuff, and we don’t do vacations. We have cut expenses to the bone: no cell phones, clothes get made our bought second hand, we make our own detergent, we preserve a lot of food when it’s cheapest, our car totally sucks, and we simply do not eat out. But we’re happy and we feel blessed. One person is always working and the other is at home with the children. And we do just okay enough to get by, unless something goes big-time wrong. And that’s how it’s likely to be until the kids are in school. But the thing is that if we both worked full time plus, it would all go to cover childcare and our income would dictate that we’d loose BadgerCare. Essentially, we’d make just enough to not be able to afford insurance. That’s absurd.

So the options we’ve been left with are this: both of us to work as much as possible, put the kids in daycare and loose healthcare, or keep our income at a level that at once facilitates a stay at home parent, ensures BadgerCare and excludes our true earning potential, just for the sake of insurance of some kind. All in the name of if something should go wrong. Because if something big goes wrong or something bad happens, it’s not going to eat the savings — there isn’t any. We’ll go bankrupt and loose what little we have.

With ACA, at least when we get our children into school, (gettin’ there), and our income essentially doubles, enough to, 1) loose BadgerCare, 2) gain some economic stability and, 3) generate some savings, it won’t all get eaten by health insurance costs because we will be able to access the ACA. We didn’t set out looking for this set of options, but like a lot of other people, we were young, uninsured, and in love. We got married, had children and then realized just what we were up against..

I think any discussion of ACA needs to address the fact that a lot of families out there, (I know many), have been forced to earn less to prevent the worst. My hope is that since the ACA addresses this dilemma it might be the bedrock of it’s success.

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