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S. is young and healthy – you wouldn’t expect her to have a hard time finding health insurance. But when she had a gap between jobs and applied for private health insurance, she was denied coverage. It turns out that a minor abnormality found in her blood work a few years ago qualified as a pre-existing condition, even though it disappeared about a month after it initially popped up.

The only coverage S. could find was in a high-risk pool with a monthly premium of $450 and a very high deductible—too much for her to afford. So she found herself uninsured, something she’s not comfortable with. “I’ve always been pretty conservative about my health care,” she explains. “I always made sure I had insurance, including in gaps between jobs, so it was really stressful for me. I wanted to be covered.”

S. knew that because of the ACA she would be able to get health insurance starting in January, regardless of her health history. But when she started shopping on MNsure, she was surprised to see just how comprehensive and affordable the available coverage is. With experience buying her own insurance in the past, S. was used to seeing plans with massive deductibles, poor prescription coverage, and lifetime caps. Through MNsure, S. was able to find a plan with a $175 monthly premium, 0% coinsurance, and a $1000 deductible. “I was really blown away by the options on the MNsure website,” she recalls. “I actually called my husband at work and asked, ‘Why is no one talking about how awesome these plans are?’ They’re much better than what you could typically buy for yourself, and they’re a lot better than what I was getting from my employer.”

S. is passionate about what the ACA promises for her and millions of others who weren’t able to find decent health coverage before. “Before the ACA, really atrocious things were happening like people getting kicked off their insurance or not being treated for pre-existing conditions. If the media had covered those incidents as news, we would have been outraged – but it wasn’t news, because it was just the system as it was,” she says. “Now we’re working towards something that serves everyone better, and we might have to fumble along a little bit, but I far prefer that.” She also knows this is an especially important message for her uninsured peers. “It’s a peace of mind thing. Young people who think that they’re not going to get sick or hurt are fooling themselves. It’s better to have insurance and feel empowered to go get care when it’s a good idea.” 

For S., that peace of mind comes with knowing her coverage will start in January—and it has had consequences that go beyond her doctor’s office. “Having the flexibility to take a part time job that didn’t include insurance was really financially healthy for my family. I probably wouldn’t have taken it if I didn’t know that in January I would be able to access insurance.” And there are even some other perks: “I don’t let myself bike commute when I don’t have health insurance because I think it’s too risky,” S. explains. “So as soon as I have insurance again – and it’s not 20 below – I will be able to start biking to work again. That’s something I’m looking forward to.”

Tags: minnesota, mnsure

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