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First week with Obamacare: How’d it go?

obamacare

I’m proud to say this for the first time in four years: I HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE!!! Yep, here in the beautiful state of Arkansas, I am insured because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. See, I’ve been denied health insurance for a number of pre-existing conditions – including asthma, anxiety, a torn meniscus in my knee, and – shock of all shocks – being on birth control. It’s been extremely frustrating, but nonetheless, I have made my doctors’ appointments, self-paid for prescriptions and physician visits, and spent hundreds of dollars on medication and appointments each month.

It was fine until 2012, when my car completely died on me and I had to get a new one. I’ve had to cut corners, and have even put off purchasing needed prescriptions because they didn’t meet my budget.

Then the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act kicked in. I was able to sign up for health insurance, I was covered on New Year’s Day, and it’s been a tremendous relief for me and my family.

So, here’s how I’ve benefited in the past week:

I got to see the same doctor I’ve been going to for 8 years. I was determined to get in a doctor’s office as soon as I was insured, and by gum, I was insured on 1/1 and saw my primary care physician for a well woman exam on 1/2. My appointment with my PCP was very streamlined. Updating my insurance information took the staff about, oh, five minutes. But no, I didn’t have to wait in a long line, and yes, my visit was just like any other visit. My doctor was excited that I had insurance! She’s been so kind to help me save money in the past four years that I’ve been uninsured.

2014-01-07 12.40.03I got to switch pharmacies! When you’re uninsured, you discover that one drug at one pharmacy can have a different price than the other. I had a pharmacy discount card that saved me just a little bit on prescriptions, and the lowest copay I had was at a pharmacy that kept HORRIBLE hours. We’re talking “We close at 6 p.m. on weeknights, 2 p.m. on Saturdays and don’t even think about Sunday.” The pharmacy was also an extra drive away from my house.

I’m now able to use the Walgreens right down the street! Walgreens offers a LOT of refill options – including their fabulous app that lets you scan prescriptions for refills, a web-based refill and transfer procedure, AND the benefit of being just a few blocks away and open 24/7 with a DRIVE-THRU. I’ve been dealing with the pharmacy staff at my local Walgreens for the years I’ve been looking after Mom, picking up her prescriptions. Don’t get me wrong, the staff at my old pharmacy was great, but these guys know my mom’s health up and down and have ALWAYS been good to her.

Updating my insurance info with Walgreens was super-easy – although I must admit that transferring my psychiatric meds was not so easy. However, that is to be expected, and I have an appointment with my psychiatrist this week and can easily have her change pharmacies for me. Meanwhile, I had to pick up two prescriptions that weren’t able to be transferred from my other pharmacy.

And now, you are about to see a photo that is a combination of rock-star awesomeness with creative ways of hiding my personal information.

 

cheapscrips

When I picked up my prescriptions at both pharmacies, I almost CRIED at the price I paid for four prescriptions. I had a $2 copay for a brand new Albuterol inhaler. Anyone who knows anything about asthma KNOWS how expensive albuterol is – especially since they were able to renew their patents when they had to change the canister to prevent from releasing CFCs into the environment. My ENTIRE cost for four prescriptions was FIVE DOLLARS. I teared up. Because I’ve been spending so much money on my medical expenses, playing roulette with my life, and self-treating illnesses instead of going to the doctor and paying nearly $200 per visit!

ALSO, I have the added benefit of no longer having to add up ALL my insane medical expenses during tax time so I can hope to get some kind of break that is greater than the standard deduction. (It never is, but it’s always in the range of thousands of dollars, but just enough not to meet the standard deduction. Blech!)

I know that not everyone has had the same experience as me. I have friends who are paying more for prescriptions, for instance – and are trying to work things out with their insurers. But this has been a lifesaver. Because I made a deal with my dad that if I ever got so sick that I would need a very expensive treatment, I would go to another country to have said treatment because no matter how much it cost there, it would be less than here. But now, Dad doesn’t have to worry about that and neither do I. I feel like a massive weight has been removed from me.

I’m very happy with my experience with the Affordable Care Act. It’s given me peace of mind.

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