After President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans have been left wondering about the future of their health care. We asked readers to tell us how they would be affected if the law were repealed. These are some of their stories, condensed and edited for clarity.
“I’m absolutely terrified”
I have three separate diagnosed mental disorders, including chronic depression, severe anxiety/panic disorder and PTSD that make me ineligible for health insurance. It’s expensive to treat; I take a combination of five medications and see two doctors a month. It used to cost nearly a thousand dollars every month out of pocket for treatment uninsured. Without treatment, my condition is life-threatening and I’ve almost died on a couple of occasions.
Because of the A.C.A., I can treat my conditions for a fraction of the cost, live a healthy productive life and work a job that I love that enables me to have my own apartment, car, savings even. I remember my friend and I reading what would now be covered, under the A.C.A, out loud to each other and laughing and crying like our team had just won the Super Bowl.
I’m absolutely terrified of what will happen if I lose all of this. I don’t want to go back down that long dark tunnel again. I don’t think I’ll survive it. The A.C.A is flawed yes, but instead of yanking it from the people who desperately need it, like me, why can’t it stay in place while we fix it?
“It Would Significantly Improve My Life”
31, Harrisburg, Pa.
It would significantly improve my life: lower premiums, more quality care, and more choices. We paid $486 per month last year for my daughter and me, plus the $4000 for my son’s birth. We later switched to my husband’s employer plan and were able to pay $552 for all three of us. I didn’t even consider signing up with HealthCare.gov again because it would have easily been $700 for all three of us, with a deductible that would have bankrupted us if I had another health issue that required intervention.
Before my premiums started paying for everyone else’s subsidies, we could afford reasonable health care plans at a reasonable rate. Obamacare has just increased the cost and not improved the lives of those who are in the middle class.
“I Would Have to Declare Bankruptcy”
49, Mount Pleasant, Utah
I live in a very rural part of Utah, in one of the poorer counties in the state. There are very few job opportunities here, unless you work at the coal mine or the prison. My sister and I have started a small online business. We eke out a living on it, but wouldn’t be able to afford insurance without the subsidies.
If I had to go back to the corporate world to get insurance, I would leave Utah altogether. That would mean I wouldn’t be here supporting small businesses in a struggling rural community. I wouldn’t be providing a supplemental income for the women we have partnered with locally—a stay-at-home mom, a grandmother and a mother of nine whose husband can’t work due to medical issues all bring in extra income through our business that runs as a collective on Etsy.com.
If the A.C.A is repealed, I will not have insurance and would take the risk. If something big happened I would have to declare bankruptcy or find a job in another state that provided insurance. The A.C.A allows people to leave the corporate world and become small business owners!
“It’s Cheaper For me to Pay the Fine”
62, Little River, S.C.
It would help me. I am 62 years old and I had purchased insurance — the Silver Plan through the marketplace — for 2016 and it was horrible. I live in South Carolina, and the only company offering insurance for 2017 is Blue Cross Blue Shield. I had purchased the insurance, then I found out that they will not cover me at all if I leave the state. I spend 3 to 5 months a year up north. This insurance is useless to me. My premiums were $875 a month and I had to spend $7300 before it even kicked in. I got a refund for my first month’s premium and now for the first time in my life I have no insurance. It is cheaper for me to pay the fine.
“I Would Have Had to Decide Between Food and a Doctor Visit”
38, Las Vegas
My job offers health insurance but to cover my entire family it would be $250 deducted out of every check as well as a $3,000 deductible I would need to meet before my insurance plan kicked in. I have four kids, one of who is in college, and there was just no way I could afford that.
The Affordable Care Act allowed my children to be insured with a premium that I could afford! If I didn’t have this my family would have gone uninsured or I would have had to decide between food or a doctor visit. Thank goodness it hasn’t come to that!
“I Would Have to Find Another Job Where I Would Not Be as Happy”
26, Menomonee Falls, Wis.
I would not be able to work for my amazing employer, which is the best job I have ever had in my whole life, who does not offer insurance because they have fewer than 50 full-time employees. It is a start-up company in Milwaukee and I am a manager at the company. The A.C.A allows me to work for them and allows them to operate as a business.
Although I realize some people’s situations are more life-or-death than mine, I believe an important aspect of the A.C.A is its empowerment of small businesses, and for those who wish to work outside the corporate structure. I would have to find another job where I would not be as happy.
“We’d Rather Self-Pay if We Need to go to a Doctor”
61, Hershey, Pa.
Right now, my husband and I chose to go without insurance for the first time in our lives. Why? Because my husband, 64, is self-employed and makes over $65,000 a year and I do not get any benefits elsewhere. We do not qualify for any subsidies. Our quoted premiums from a choice of only three companies doing business in our area were over $2,000 a month and a $7,000-plus deductible. We are both in our 60s and nonsmokers and healthy!! So we decided to wait and see what happens in the next three months rather than pay this astronomical amount! And this is constitutional?
It doesn’t help that much that we can deduct our premiums at tax time so we’d rather pay the penalty and save our $2,000 a month and self-pay if we need to go to a doctor.
“We Have No Other Means to Get Affordable Health Care”
43, El Paso
It would be terrible for my husband and me. We have no other means to get affordable health care that will cover our pre-existing conditions. My husband is self-employed and therefore has no employer-based health plan, and I am a stay at home parent to our 8-year-old son with autism.
Our son receives Medicaid and I am also very concerned about proposed cuts to Medicaid, and the Republican party’s desire to turn it over to the states in block grants. The Republican plan for health care is no plan. Many sick and disabled people will be left out in the cold.
“This Isn’t Affordable Care”
29, Endicott, N.Y.
My husband and I run our own business of which we are the only employees. Our health insurance options are limited, costly and have an insanely high deductible. We purchased insurance through the A.C.A. because it’s our only choice. In order to get a plan that’s lower than our mortgage payment, we have to accept options where virtually nothing is covered and deductibles are upward of $15,000. This isn’t affordable care.
We make enough money that we don’t qualify for any subsidies, but not enough money where spending thousands of dollars a month on health insurance is some insignificant drop in the bucket. But even though I think about all of the money we’d save on a regular basis, going without health insurance was never really an option for my husband or I.
We’re both healthy, and in all of the time we’ve been on the insurance plan that we buy on the exchange, we’ve never submitted a claim. The few times we’ve needed minor health care services, we’ve paid in cash. We’ve never come close to hitting our deductible and we get a better rate if we pay in cash. However, we know that one accident or hospital stay without insurance could absolutely devastate us financially. We just can’t take that risk.
“I Could Get Divorced”
32, Kelseyville, Calif.
If I lost my health insurance that I purchased under the A.C.A I would have two options. I could get the “family plan” through my husband’s employer, which would cost somewhere between $7,000 and $7,500 annually. Or I could get divorced. This option is financially more affordable, but I can’t believe we are considering such an emotional expense.
If we got divorced, I could get MediCal, the low-income option in California for which I am currently ineligible due to our combined income. This issue is on my mind when every morning when I wake up — I worry about losing my coverage constantly.
“It Can’t Be Worse”
41, San Antonio
It can’t be worse than it is now. I got my family covered under a HealthCare.gov plan but the deductibles and out of pocket are so much that we’re being forced to go down to one car and possibly sell our home to pay medical bills.
“My Premiums Will Become Untenable”
31, San Francisco
After I left my start-up job in 2012, I didn’t have health insurance for four years. With a pre-existing diagnosis of anxiety and depression, although both were under control, the premiums available to me were prohibitively high. I was either getting alternative treatments or, after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, saw specialists who didn’t accept insurance. So while I worried about what would happen in case of an accident, I was happy not to pay for an insurance policy I felt I didn’t need.
When the A.C.A. was introduced I was actually very unhappy and frustrated at having to pay a monthly premium for a service I wasn’t going to use on top of my medical bills. I refused to sign up and decided that the $600-something fine was better than a monthly premium. About a year ago though, my health took a turn and I knew that I would need more testing and doctors’ visits than I had the resources for, so I enrolled.
The premium on the plan I chose was steep but the tax credit was generous; the monthly cost was a strain but I have made good use of the services now available to me.
Since I got insurance in February, I’ve been diagnosed with several medical conditions, and they are not well-controlled. Even if approval for patients with pre-existing conditions remains mandatory, if the A.C.A is repealed, my premiums will become untenable.
“We Were Able to go Back to School in Midlife”
43, Lawrence, Kan.
My husband and I, both 43, were able to go back to school in midlife. I now have a Ph.D. in gerontology and he is finishing a law degree, and we have been able to obtain affordable insurance thanks to the A.C.A. I am looking for an academic teaching position and likely to be unemployed until August even if my job search is successful. We are counting on the A.C.A. to get us through 2017.
“It Would be a Disaster for my Patients”
David W. Wormuth,
I’m a chest surgeon and I don’t have Obamacare, but it’s critical for my patients. I treat mostly lung and esophageal cancer. Repealing Obamacare without a replacement would be a disaster for my patients. You can’t get your cancer treated in the E.R.
Correction: January 30, 2017
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article erroneously attributed some statements to Masha Chepovetsky. Another reader, who was not included in the final article, submitted the following statement, not Ms. Chepovetsky: “I probably would lose my health insurance. Or go back to the awful insurance I had before. The only type of insurance I could afford before the Affordable Care Act had a $10,000 deductible and cost about $350 per month. Now I have a plan with a $750 deductible and it covers checkups right away.”