It wasn’t until he got laid off and our COBRA coverage expired that I discovered how difficult it would be to buy a health plan on my own. I shopped around, but as soon as I revealed my pre-existing condition, I was denied coverage — no further questions asked. My appeals were unsuccessful, and insurers wouldn’t even sell me a plan at some sky-high price. I went to California’s high-risk pool for uninsured people with pre-existing conditions, but the option to pay $1,800 a month for flimsy coverage that would have left my three young children uninsured was not really an option at all.
After months of searching, I found an expensive plan with limited benefits through a professional association, and ever since I have paid to be a member of the organization just so I can maintain coverage. For 15 years my sons and I have struggled to afford the plan’s annual deductibles of up to $3,000 per person and monthly premiums that have risen about 30% each year.
Every couple of years I reduced our coverage and gave up our trusted providers to avoid yet another premium increase, until we reached the plan’s minimum coverage level. Now a single mom with three sons to put through college, I’ve had to make some very tough choices.