Friday, June 29, 2012

My Take on the Affordable Care Act

When we are in our 20s, we don't think about health care. Our focus was getting ahead in our jobs, developing meaningful relationships (finding a partner). Great if we had an employer that offered health care insurance was a bonus.

A couple times I entertained thoughts of leaving GM for another company. It was after about 10 years, I started realizing it would be more difficult to change employers as I age – invested stock (401k) benefits, vacation time, etc. I was still healthy, so a change of employer was mostly “can you pay me enough to match my benefits”.

Then in 1990, about 19 years into my career (43 years old) I was diagnosed with 2 “predetermined conditions” - hypertension and incurable (but treatable) viral infection.

From that time until I was able to retired with benefits, I was walking a fine line. There was a chance that our division of GM could be sold – what would that do to me health care? We went through down-sizing – was I going to be cut? I was concerned that disputes with supervision could put me on the chopping block.

Finally, I got to the magic 30 years and the year of my 55th birthday. I could retire with benefits. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Three years into my retirement I suffered a stroke cause by a failed heart valve. Thankfully, I still had my good GM insurance coverage. As a cost cutting move, GM changed retiree health care plans – now at age 65, we would lose GM insurance and go onto Medicare. There was a promise that we would get $300 a month more in our pension to help offset our cost of Medicare and MediGap. At this time I am NOT holding my breath that I will ever see this money.

Then came the GM bankruptcy.

At this same time, I was going through surgeries, radiation, and chemo for cancer. Did not know if I would have my GM health care insurance. Didn't even know if I would retain my pension! Just what I did not need while trying to battle cancer.

What would I do? I was facing pleading for the VA for health care (as a Viet Nam vet) and losing all of my savings. Thankfully, President Obama saved the auto industry, and perhaps – my life.

I am still undergoing routine CT scans for my cancers. In a couple months I turn 65 and will be covered under Medicare. Now, if the Republican's don't cut my Medicare and Social Security, I may be able to continue a reasonable comfortable lifestyle riding my bicycles and shooting photos.

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