The Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka ObamaCare) is stirring up a lot of debates. Things got so heated that our government even shut down. I largely ignored the debate, as I had too much on my plate battling the banks over >force-placed insurance. Growing up in the military, I don’t know much about the civilian health care system. I didn’t care until a couple of days ago when I woke up to a painful and swollen testicle and the reality of being an uninsured freelancer with limited funds suddenly set in. I immediately logged on to the Health Insurance Marketplace set up by the Obama administration for people in my exact situation.
As your average self-employed American, I’d like to provide a quick reference guide on how to navigate HealthCare.gov, the much reviled Health Insurance Marketplace the White House clearly overpaid for. My hope in posting this guide is to clear up any confusion about the operation of this site:
Step 1 – Register
The registration process is simple. Although there must have been a lot of load errors at launch due to high traffic hitting the graphics-intensive interface, I didn’t come across any technical glitches setting up my username and password, entering my personal information, or receiving and responding to the email. Any reported hiccups regarding load times seem to have been worked out.
Step 2 – Verify Your Identity and Contact Info
I’m finally in the system and ready to get insurance. I have to read and agree to a lot of terms and conditions I’ll never bother to read. If there’s anything important in it, surely I’ll hear about it in the news. I’m asked many of the same personal identification questions, however this time they ask for more details. I verify that I’m a single white (and part Hawaiian) male with no mental disabilities, ensuring that any issues I have are either technical or based on class, rather than sex or race. The system seems satisfied…
Step 3 – Verify Your Income
Next, I enter my income, since I selected that I’d like assistance paying for health care. I work as a freelancer, so I don’t have an employer or a health plan. I make the system aware of this by labeling my income streams as “Self-Employed.” I input the estimated $20k per year I currently make as a freelancer (I’m still in my first full year of income generation off it) and verify my information.
Once again, I seem to be having no slowdown issues related to traffic nor inputting incorrect information. The reports about a malfunctioning website seem to be another myth the Republicans came up with.
Step 4 – Receive Your Results
After inputting all your information, you’ll be presented with a link to download the PDF results. Here’s a copy of my results.
As an uninsured and self-employed, 32-year-old American male making an estimated $20k per year living in the State of Arizona, I was deemed uninsurable by the Health Insurance Marketplace. I was presented with no health care options. My one hope of finding an affordable solution to my swollen and painful testicle prior to waiting until it progresses to a point where it’s life or death and they can’t refuse me treatment is dashed.
Step 5 – Review Resolution Dispute Options
Thankfully, I’m given a couple of helpful resolution options to give me something to do while I wait for either an influx of cash to afford a visit to urgent care or for the pain to reach an extreme worth a trip to the ER. I’m able to forward my information to Medicaid, the current health care option I already know I don’t qualify for and was under the impression ObamaCare would resolve. My other option is to register to vote to my opinion can matter. I’ll be sure to schedule time for both.
In the meantime, there is a complicated dispute resolution process I won’t even read because I’ll likely die before I could follow it, and I’d prefer to focus my energy on positive thinking, working as hard as possible not to lose my $20k (I’m paid per project and don’t get sick pay), and making what could possibly be my last days on this earth comfortable.
Step 6 – Curl Up and Accept Pending Death
Looking back at all the insane choices I’ve made in my adult life, from jumping out of an airplane to bumping heads with Bank of America, Scientology, and the US Government, I never thought my ultimate undoing would be from lack of health care options in what I’m led to believe is the most thriving economic society in human history.
Throughout my journey, I’ve faced impossible odds…but I’ve never felt more alone and afraid than I am now…grappling with the terrifying realization that the only people on my side are the Republicans…
Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower, freelance consultant, and troll. He’s a frequent contributor to The Street, Cannabis Now, and Fast Company, Huffington Post, Mainstreet, Lifehack, and HardcoreDroid.