November 9, 2016
I am an educator by profession and at heart. I taught high school for 10 years and then left the classroom to work in curriculum development and training. In the years since leaving the classroom, I realized that I had developed many skills that I could use to start a career as an independent consultant. I had always dreamed of working for myself. The only obstacle in my way was health insurance.
You see, I have bipolar disorder and maintain my health by regularly seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist, taking my meds, and employing other holistic health practices. My only options for insurance after leaving my full-time job was COBRA, the insurance offered to me after I left my job, or finding my own plan. COBRA was going to cost more than $800 a month, so I chose to find my own insurance through private insurers. However, despite the fact that I managed my disorder responsibly, I was turned down by two companies due to my pre-existing condition.
I had to put my dream of working for myself on hold and find a job that provided health insurance. I went without coverage for several months while I was looking for a new position. Without insurance, I was uneasy. I walked around on eggshells, knowing that any injury or illness could be a financial disaster.
After a year in my new full-time job, the Health Insurance Marketplace opened, providing insurance options, despite my pre-existing condition. Initially, I thought the process of shopping for a plan through the Marketplace would be overwhelming, so I stayed at my current job—just for the health insurance.
But then I decided that I didn’t want to wait any longer to chase my dream. At the beginning of 2015, I started my own consulting business. So it was time to get covered. This time, I heard about the Navigator program, where I could get personal help to find and enroll in a Marketplace plan. My assister was great at explaining my options and how to sign up.
READ MORE: Health Coverage is My Road to Independence